Current Reading: Nabb, Runcie, O’Connell, Siger

death-of-an-englishmanI finished reading Death of An Englishman by Magdalen Nabb, the first book in her series featuring Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia of Florence. I liked it, though if the author intended to fool me with the identity of the criminal, she only partly succeeded; I figured it out a chapter or so before it was revealed. The book’s strength is in the portrayal of the Florence setting and the Florence police establishment. So complicated, so many layers and departments!


In this book, in which an English resident is murdered in his rooms, two Scotland Yard detectives arrive from England to help with the case, as the Englishman was “connected” to an important family. I liked the characters and it was a diverting mystery.

Then from the library came Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie. I read about this series featuring Canon Chambers in a recent issue of Mystery Scene magazine and it sounded intriguing. I’ll have a review up soon.

santorini-caesarsBarbara started Blind Sight by Carol O’Connell, the newest Mallory novel, and as usual with O’Connell’s books she raced through it until at page 283 she came to a forced stop. Several pages were glued together, and no amount of gentle tinkering would make them part.

We took the book back to the library where the man at the information desk said “no problem” and took it to the back. He returned in a minute and said “no luck there” and proceeded to just push his fingers between the pages and tear them apart! The print lifted from the lower part of some pages and others were badly torn. That was that. I was (am still) astounded. I would at least have tried a razor blade or separation tool. So that book has now been taken out of circulation and Barbara has been put into first position for the next available copy.

So now she’s reading the latest in Jeffrey Siger’s Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series, Santorini Caesars. We both like Siger’s books, though I’m one behind in the series. When the O’Connell book comes up, she’ll pick up where she left off.

How about you?
What are you reading?

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Mystery. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Current Reading: Nabb, Runcie, O’Connell, Siger

  1. Deb says:

    I finished two good books this weekend and would recommend both of them to anyone looking for a change of pace. The first was Meg Little Reilly’s WE ARE UNPREPARED, a novel about the consequences of global climate change. It sounds like it would be a political screed, but it’s not. In fact, one of the things I liked about it was the way it kept me slightly off-balance as to where its (and my) sympathies were. It’s easy to see the main characters (a married 30-somethings couple who relocate from NYC to rural Vermont just before a series of superstorms begin to devastate the area) as clueless, entitled yuppies, but as the storms get worse and the water rises, our panic rises along with that of the couple. Even the “Prepper” group that the wife gets involved with is presented ambiguously: are they paranoid anti-government nuts, or do they have a point that if a disaster is massive enough, government and civil society will break down and only the self-sufficient will survive?

    A completely different book was Fiona Davis’s THE DOLLHOUSE, about residents of New York’s Barbizon Hotel for Women (made famous after Sylvia Plath stayed there and later satirized it in THE BELL JAR). The novel alternates between the story of a naive young woman who arrived at the Barbizon in the 1950s and a contemporary-day journalist who lives in the now-condo-ized building. The journalist is trying to uncover a mystery from the earlier time. Yes, there’s a chick-lit element and the ending felt a little too pat, but it was a breezy read and just different enough to be interesting.

    • While they are probably very good, neither one of those sounds of particular interest to me, I’m afraid. I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries, but I feel a science fiction-fantsy wave coming and may read some of that soon.

  2. Jerry House says:

    Richard, I’ll have to get on the Runcie bandwagon soon. I’ve enjoyed the television GRANTCHESTER series a lot.

    Again, it’s been a slow reading week — just J. D. Carr’s THE MURDER OF SIR EDMOND GODFREY and John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard’s CONQUEST, the first book in a SF trilogy. Earth has been conquered by the humanish Illyri, who have brought many benefits to humanity but mankind is stubbornly ungrateful and a resistance flourishes. Lurking behind the shadows is a larger mystery that threatens to conquer the Illyri. I found the beginning of the book somewhat slow but the action soon picked up for an enjoyable read. I’ll be going on to the second book soon.


    Much of the week was spend shuttling grandkids back and forth with all Fall activities in full swing — cross country for Mark (who ran 18 miles yesterday), color guard for Erin, and pre-K, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, and speech for the Kangaroo. I’m going through a tank of gas every other day and the price at the pumps has been fluctuating wildly for reasons beyond my comprehension. I’ve also been caught up with the election with its state and national clown car atmosphere.

    May your week be filled with unglued pages.

    • Deb says:

      In the Victorian era, every well-educated person had a pair of book scissors to separate pages (books were printed on folio sized sheets and folded and stitched into books, so the pages required cutting before the first reading). It’s incomprehensible to me that a librarian wouldn’t have some sort of cutting tool to perform small repairs. After all, any of us can rip pages!

      • I couldn’t agree more. Of course, it wasn’t my book to repair, but in the sense that my taxes paid (a tiny amount of) the book, I was shocked to see the guy just rip it like that.

    • Jerry, I finished it last night, and it’s very light mystery fiction. Very light, almost at a cozy level. So be warned. But then maybe the TV show is the same. I won’t be reading another, I don’t think.

  3. THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE by Lou Berney. Phil is now reading THE SYMPATHIZER.

  4. All of my students are taking exams this week. So most of my time will involve correcting exams and dealing with student emails and phone calls (“Dr. Kelley, why didn’t I get an “A”?). I usually read the AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE while proctoring the exams.

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    That library story is unbelievable! I would have tried a sharp knife, perhaps.

    We started watching the Sidney Chambers/Grantchester series on PBS, but as with the Father Brown and Tommy & Tuppence adaptations we’ve had recently, did not like the 1950’s milieu they used. I was not really a fan of the character, either, so won’t be reading the books. (As an aside, I was impressed with how different the character James Norton played in HAPPY VALLEY was, as compared with the benign Chambers.)

    I did get to see Siger a few times at Bouchercon. Still waiting to get my hands on the new book.

    This was another week of starts and stops on books. I decided to try the Wayward Pines books after reading Deb’s positive review, and it was certainly a fast, easy read. But after 50+ pages I saw that it was indeed the kind of book I can’t believe (and hence, dislike) and quit reading. THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER was another that was highly recommended but just not for me.

    What did I read? Someone (can’t remember who, sorry) recommended the short stories of Jeffrey Ford, who has won various fantasy awards. I got his latest collection (A NATURAL HISTORY OF HELL) and loved the first story enough to go back and get his previous collection (CRACKPOT PALACE) from the library to read first. The story in the original collection was “The Blameless,” in which a suburban couple get an invitation in the mail from the neighbors.

    “Who’s getting married.”
    “It’s for their daughter, Grace.”
    “She’s not even out of high school, I don’t think.”
    “It’s not a wedding. It’s an invitation to her exorcism.”

    Now maybe you can resist an opening like that, but I sure couldn’t. If none of the others has quite reached that level as yet, I’m still reading.

    Also read: RAZOR GIRL by Carl Hiaasen, his latest, and one of his better recent efforts. THE EMERALD LIE by Ken Bruen, the latest Jack Taylor book, which has a shout-out to Patti Abbott by the way. If none of his recent books are as good as the first few Taylors, they are still eminently readable and entertaining. I raced through the 340 pages in less than a day. (One book Taylor recommends, something you find in all his books, is JERNIGAN, the first novel by David Gates. I’d read and liked his two collections of stories and his novel PRESTON FALLS, but hadn’t read this, his first novel. I’ve downloaded it from the library and I’m reading it now. George Kelley and other fans of Richard Ford will find much to recognize here, in this tale of a suburban guy trying to raise his son after the death of his wife a year before, as he sinks into alcoholism and an affair with his son’s girlfriend’s mother.)

    Lastly there was Robert Silverberg’s collection (reviewed a while ago by George) MUSINGS AND MEDITATIONS, 4 page essays from Asimov’s magazine on science fiction, science, and his other thoughts. As always, Silverberg is very worth reading.

    • I’m finding there are a lot of books, most of them new within the last 5 years, that just have no appeal for me at all. I’m not sure if it’s my reading tastes changing, or the kind of books changing, or just some mood I’m in or what. I’ve been reading all mysteries for a while now and I can feel a SF (or fantasy) itch starting. If not that, I’ll probably read another Brit mystery, such as Burley, Robinson, maybe the first Sgt. Cluff. I also have the first Turnbull sitting at top of TBR, and I have Lescroat’s DEAD IRISH there too. Have you read that one?

      • I have started the Lescroat, in 20 pages. I thought ith the title it would be set in Dublin or someplace Irish, but it’s in San Francisco. Never read him before. Looks like 15 or so in the series so far. Wow.

    • Steve Oerkfitz says:

      I recommended Jeffrey Ford here so it may have been me. I’m a big fan of his.
      Reading The Gradual by Christopher Priest and The Ophelia Cut by John Lescroart right now. Hadn’t read anything by Lescroart for several years. Also delving into a new anthology Children of Lovecraft edited by the ever reliable Ellen Datlow. Has some of my current favorite short story writers( Laird Barron, John Langan, and Brian Evenson). Next on my TBR pile The Kid by Ron Hansen-loved his earlier Desperadoes and The Assassination of Jesse James By that Dirty Coward Robert Ford.
      Also been catching up on season 5 of Longmire. 3 episodes in I’m a little disappointed.

      • Jeff Meyerson says:

        Thanks , Steve. I thought it might have been but I couldn’t remember for sure.

        Rick, I’ll have to check when I get home. My mother was a big Lescroat fan and I know I read at least one. I always thought I should like it more than I did.

  6. Jeff Meyerson says:

    “Hipster Brooklyn.” eh, Deb? I see my library has a copy so may look at WE ARE UNPREPARED.

    By the way, the 1983 New York Bouchercon has at the Barbizon. I remember the rooms as being particularly tiny. The New York Marathon was that Sunday, and I remember a German runner next door to the room where we were partying on Saturday night (think the stateroom scene in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA) asking us to quiet down as he needed his sleep!

    Patti, I loved that Berney book, and THE SYMPATHIZER is on my list. Someone (Laura Lippmann?) was praising it highly on a panel at Bouchercon.

  7. Jeff-Everyone is my book group admired it and a friend, an expert on Vietnam, thought it was terrific. Phil says it bogs down in the middle so we will see.

  8. NOTE: I’m having Xfinify (Comcast) email problems, and so Im’ not notified when new comments go up here. We innocently tried to check the TV listings, but they have a “new” “improved”, “better than ever” listing. We had to go through a complete account set-up, repeating what we already had, and change our password, and all. Then it gives us a lousy black background with grey listings. BAH! ARE THERE NO WORKHOUSES FOR THE IDIOT TECHS WHO CODE SUCH CRAP? So somewhere in the process the Xfinity account got confused and now won’t load my emails. I and they are “working on it” I hate computer “upgrades”. LEVE THE TECH ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ll likely calm down by tomorrow.

  9. Redhead says:

    When I saw Barbara was reading Blind Sight, my first thought was the Peter Watts scifi thriller! It’s good, if you’re into that kind of thing.

    I’ve been bouncing around, being ADHD in books. I’m reading a few pages at a time Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson (liking it so far!), Red Rising by Pierce Brown (way too YA for me, will most likely give up) and Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler, it’s non-fiction about Antarctica. Me, read non-fiction? i know!

    • Steve Oerkfitz says:

      Loved Darwinia Robert Charles Wilson is one of my favorite writers. His novels tend to be more character driven than most SF.

  10. I’ve just reserved DEATH OF AN ENGLISHMAN at my local library, Richard. Thanks for the tip. Sounds good to me. I’m familiar with the Sidney Chambers mysteries by James Runcie, read quite a few of them a while back. Very nicely done stories with a likable protagonist.

    I’m currently reading several books, mostly of the humorous variety (because of election angst).
    One stand-out (besides the one I wrote about on my blog for Friday) is THE WAY MEN ACT by Eleanor Lipman which is kind of, sort of ‘chick lit’ with some not so very likable but amusing characters and, for whatever reason – maybe the setting, I think – I enjoyed it. I think also because Lipman is good at creating sympathetic characters even if they are not anyone you’d want as a friend. Hard to explain. It might also have something to with the fact that I’m old and have little connection to younger folk and their romantic entanglements – but still, I enjoyed the book. Go figure.

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