Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger – mystery. A new Krueger book is always cause for celebration here, as he’s one of my favorite authors. This was, no surprise, a good one, with all of the characters, setting and strong plotting we’re used to in a Krueger novel.
When a liberal Senator’s plane crashes into a swampy area not far from Aurora, home of Cork O’Conner and his family, Cork is called out to help with the search for the plane, any survivors, and possibly the plane’s black box. But before much searching can get underway, the FBI shows up and pushes everyone else away. The plane wreckage is found, no survivors. The black box is missing. Everyone who started the early search is questioned in an extremely accusatory way, and then people begin getting injured and some just disappear. The tension mounts as the locals try to find out what is really going on, why there seem to be government black ops agents in the area, and why everyone is being threatened. Good one.
The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne – mystery. This was short-listed for one of the major awards, so I thought I’d try it. A woman and her husband and child are living a peaceful life on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when word comes of a prison break that changes their lives. Turns out the woman is the daughter of a kidnapped girl decades before who grew up in the marshes, off the grid. The escapee is her father, who killed two guards in his escape. She is determined to find him and bring him to justice, but her emotions are torn as she moves into the area she’s so familiar with from her youth, knowing all the while she doesn’t know what she will do when she finds her father.
Parts of this are atmospheric, the setting, as far as I could tell, well-drawn, the character interesting, but the novel as a whole didn’t click with me. Other readers will probably like it better.
So how about you?
What have you been reading?
Sadly, me too on MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER. I know people who loved it, but…just not for me.
I finally gave up on THE CHALK MAN by C. J. Tudor too, after about a third of the way through. The wimpy narrator – as much a loser 30 years later as he was at 12 – just didn’t make me care about him or what happened thirty years earlier, at least not enough to keep reading when I have so many other things I’d rather be reading. It was readable enough, a little too self-consciously similar to “The Body” (STAND BY ME), perhaps why Stephen King praised it, but…meh. You know how some books are compelling reading and you find it hard to put them down without finding out What Happens Next? Not the case here. My fault, possibly.
I am reading Abbey Mei Otis’s increasingly weird collection of stories, ALIEN VIRUS LOVE DISASTER (last story today), which is uneven but occasionally very good. I’m enjoying Catherine Aird’s late collection of stories, LAST WRITES, which has only had one Sloan & Crosby story so far. And Lord Dunsany’s FIFTY-ONE TALES is an easy read, especially as the “tales” are generally only two pages long each. I have two more library collections on hand for when I finish these (only the Dunsany is not from the library), by John Varley (since several of you touted his short stories over the novels) and by Deborah Eisenberg,
The other big read last week was THE NEGOTIATOR by Brendan DuBois, which I believe is a trade paperback original (and, possibly, the first in a new series). In New Hampshire and Vermont, the nameless title character arranges exchanges in the illegal world – jewels, other items less than honestly obtained, but never drugs or people. For this the buyer pays him 5% of the purchase price. (WARNING – PARTIAL SPOILER ALERT AHEAD) But when he goes to check out a painting which turns out to be part of a famous robbery, things turn bad when his assistant is killed and he barely escapes with his life. And he cites Sam Spade’s behavior when his partner is killed as a reason to set things right. (END WARNING) As is always the case with the DuBois books and stories I’ve read, this is exciting and fast moving and definitely recommended.
Current reading: the latest (#29, I think) Joe Gunther book by Archer Mayor, BURY THE LEAD. I have Mary Robinette Kowal’s second Lady Astronaut book – THE FATED SKY – up next.
I’ve yet to read a book by DuBois. Guess I’ll have to remedy that one of these days. Where to start?
As Lee Child stated (correctly, in my opinion), DuBois is the best short story writer of his generation, so if you have a collection of his stories that’s a place to try. (The late Ed Gorman also ranked DuBois as one of the two or three best short story writers.) There are at least three collections of his stories available from Amazon on Kindle for $2.99 each. I’ve never read his Lewis Cole books, but I’ve read most of his standalones and enjoyed them. THE NEGOTIATOR is very good.
Reading NOVEMBER ROAD. I ditched the Robinson. Three in a row was too many. Read a few essays from Didon’s THE WHITE ALBUM. Got PICTURES by Lillian Ross from Alibris. Megan loved it. I loved the Dionne book but then I know Karen and am from Michigan.
I seem to be more and more inclined these days to dump books instead of finishing them. I just finished a science fiction novel and ended up skimming the last third. I’m not even sure it would be honest to say I read it.
Rick – I have friends who will read to the bitter end, even if they hate the book. Me, I am with you. If it doesn’t grab me, I move on. There are too many books to get to and not nearly enough time.
I’ve been listening to RUMPOLE audio books narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Young Rumpole) and Timothy West (The Old Rumpole). And I’m catching up on DVDs of THE JUSTICE LEAGUE, the DC animated series. I read the Justice League comics when I was a kid and I still have a fondness for those superheroes. I have some non-fiction books in the On Deck circle. And I’m listening to my STEELY DAN CDs after attending a STEELY DAN concert last week. Love the music!
I finished The Mirror Crack’d by Christie, but I haven’t watched the movie yet.
Then I read The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton. The author is Canadian and the story starts out in Canada but then moves to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands.
Now reading And Be a Villain by Rex Stout, the first in the Zeck trilogy (that you read earlier this year?).
Some day I have to read something by William Kent Krueger.
I’m not familiar with that Hamilton book. Is it spy fiction? Yes, I reread the Zeck books earlier this year, and enjoyed them very much.
Tracy, you just MUST read Krueger! Start with Iron Lake, then move through in order. I envy you the delight of reading the Cork O’Connor books for the first time.
The Hamilton book is not spy fiction but it reads like one. The protagonist is a female forensic accountant and gets back money that has been stolen (sort of). A thriller and not my usual type of read but I liked it.
I do have Iron Lake, I will locate my copy and try to read it soon.
Read one Krueger and enjoyed it. It was a standalone. Should read some others. Read In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey. A short novel. More in the tradition of classic ghost stories than horror. I thought it very good. Reread 2 of my favorites-Lolita and True Grit. Now reading the new Peter Robinson-Careless Love while listening to the new Elvis Costello and Tom Petty(a 4 cd set of unreleased, live and alternative versions).
You must have read Ordinary Grace, his only stand-alone. I recommend the O’Connor books, read from the beginning of the series. Like Petty a lot, never could get into Costello.
So far, ORDINARY GRACE is the only Krueger book I’ve read too. It was excellent. And yes, I am definitely intending to read IRON LAKE…real soon now.
Rick – I really need to give Krueger another chance. Years ago I tried one his books and it didn’t do much for me. Now, I am thinking I moved on too quickly. Thanks for the reminder.
There sure are. I usually give a book 40-50 pages, often less, then dump it if I’m not happy.