Current Reading: Stephen Kelly, Ron Corbett

The Language of the Dead by Stephen Kelly, mystery. Bombing runs by the Luftwaffe are only the most obvious sign of conflict in journalist Kelly’s first novel. It’s July 1940. Despite the proximity of a Spitfire factory, nobody thinks there’s anything in the Hampshire village of Quimby that the Führer would want to destroy. So the locals have plenty of leisure to ask who thrust farmhand Will Blackwell’s pitchfork through his neck, carved a cross onto his forehead and impaled his scythe in his chest, and who beat pregnant infirmary volunteer Emily Fordham to death along the roadside, and other seemingly unrelated (but we mystery readers know better, don’t we?) crimes.

DCI Thomas Lamb and DS David Wallace, both facing running battles in their private lives, wonder how the crimes are related and what Peter Wilkins, the mute teenager who lives on Lord Jeffrey Pembroke’s estate, may know about the case—and may be trying to communicate through his beautifully executed, deeply disturbing drawings of insects.

I liked much of it, but the attitudes of Lamb and Wallace put me off.

Cape Diamond by Ron Corbett, mystery. This is the second of Corbett’s mysteries, both featuring detective Frank Yakabuski. Set near the Northern Divide — as was the first book — this one opens with Yakabuski called to investigate a gruesome crime scene. A body has been left hanging from a schoolyard fence. On closer inspection, Yak finds a large diamond in the murder victim’s mouth.

Two criminal gangs — the Shiners and the Travellers — are fighting each other, and Yakabuski turns to his father, a now-retired detective who has a long history with the gangs, for advice in the interrogation. Is the conflict over the murder of two men? The kidnapping of a little girl? Or, possibly, the diamond found in Augustus Morrissey’s mouth? As if this weren’t enough for one detective, a serial killer is taking a deadly road trip through the United States, heading towards the Northern Divide.

This one is really good, and recommended, once you have read the first book.

So how about you?
What have you been reading?

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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17 Responses to Current Reading: Stephen Kelly, Ron Corbett

  1. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    Just read Sympathy For the Devil by William Shaw. The fourth and last of this series. Set in London in 1969. I’ve enjoyed all four of these and his standalone novel The Birdwatcher. Also reread an older SF novel by Michael Bishop-Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas. Enjoyed it as much as the first time. And am rereading The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. His first novel. And if I remember correctly very very dark.

  2. Jerry House says:

    Rick, based on what you said I’m going to have to give Ron Corbett a try. Another author to add to a teetering Mount TBR.

    Somehow I’ve managed to continue my book-a-day average for 2019. I finished A.Merritt’s THE METAL MONSTER, his follow-up to his first (and perhaps best-known) book, THE MOON POOL. To me this one was flawed by his efforts to describe something that was basically indescribable — heavy on the adjectives and light on substance. I then jumped into another book by Merritt, THE SHIP OF ISHTAR, a far better and more controlled book. The edition I read was an old 1945 Avon paperback whose binding and spine showed its age so I had to handle the book carefully, which meant I had to read the book more slowly than possible — something that perhaps allowed me to appreciate the story more.

    I also read ANTIQUES HO-HO-HOMICIDE by “Barbara Allan” (husband and wife Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins), a collection of Trash ‘n’ Treasure novellas which were originally published as e-Books. I’ve read most of this humorous cozy series and find I like it more and more. THE BEST OF LESTER DEL REY (by guess who), a collection of sixteen stories spanning more than a quarter century. Good? Oh yes.

    I also finished three anthologies: Christine Campbell Thomson’s YOU’LL NEED A NIGHTLIGHT (part of her legendary “Not at Night” series), Michael Sissons’ THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (a horror/fantasy collection combining both familiar and not-so familiar stories), and Rosamund Morris’ GREAT SUSPENSE STORIES (a 60s anthology compiled for teen readers although the stories were originally aimed at an older audience).

    It’s been pretty cold and rainy and windy here, although minus the snow other parts of the country have had. I opened the front door yesterday morning, said ‘Nope. Big nope,” closed the door, and settle in for some reading. I’m not a sports fan but my daughter kept texting us updates on last night’s game. Go Patriots!

    Have a great week, Rick!

    • You’ll want to read Ragged Lake before you go on to Cape Diamond, Jerry. Both are good. I got my copies at the library. I have read all of those Merit books, and frankly don’t care for them much. I’d rather read newer stuff.

  3. Richard, I liked the premise of “The Language of the Dead” and besides it’s set around WWII, which I enjoy reading about. I’m currently reading WILD: FROM LOST TO FOUND ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL and DANGEROUS LADY, the debut novel by English writer Martina Cole.

    • The problem with The Language of the Dead, for me, was that the cops were aggressive in their assumption of guilt of just about everyone, and thus everyone was a suspect and untrustworthy.

  4. I got some reading done while watching the two NFL teams I wanted to win–the Saints and the Chiefs–lose. I managed to find a copy of THE GREAT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES edited by Frederik Pohl. BLACKGATE featured it, but warned the book was going for $100+ online. I also found an inexpensive copy of Simon Brett’s SPOTLIGHT ON MURDER, an omnibus of three Charles Paris mysteries. With a foot of snow and temps in the -20 windchill range, I plan on getting more reading done.

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    You’ve been reading interesting sounding books by authors I don’t know lately. The gang one doesn’t appeal to me, but the WWII one might. As for other books mentioned, there is one series that is like fingernails on a blackboard to me, but YMMV and no accounting for different tastes and I will leave it there.

    We aren’t quite as bad as George here, but it was 7 this morning and we’re at -11 wind chill now. Needless to say (probably), we will be staying in. I hope to get more reading done.

    Finished: Caz Frear’s SWEET LITTLE LIES, her first, about Det. Constable Cat Kinsella and a murdered woman dumped in her area of London. It turns out by outrageous (but not totally implausible) coincidence that she knew the victim – briefly – 18 years earlier, a fact she keeps to herself so she won’t be taken off the case. Despite that, it’s a good one and well worth reading.

    I’ve started the second Sgt. Manon Bradshaw book by Susie Steiner, PERSONS UNKNOWN, and big changes have occurred since the first. Manon is five months pregnant and relegated to cold cases when this starts. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Short stories: I’m reading William Brittain’s THE MAN WHO READ MYSTERIES, the latest Crippen & Landru collection. I’m nearly done with the “Man Who” section of the book (all 11 stories), which makes clever use of the authors named – Chesterton, Hammett, Carr, etc. Some are more apt, and frankly better, than others, Also reading (slowly) the Jo Gar stories by Raoul Whitfield, in WEST OF GUAM. Latest addition is AIRSHIPS by the late Barry Hannah.

    The Frear and Steiner mysteries are library downloads, and I have another collection from the library that I haven’t started yet, by Ethan Canin.

    • I have that C&L collection, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m 1/3 through the second of three Civil War novels by Jeff Sharra, the first about Sihlo, this one about Vicksburg. Because of all the people and places, not fast reading, but good. They are both ebooks, as is the third, when I get to it. I hadn’t planned on reading them, there are other things in the TBR, but I got caught up in the first and here I am.

      It took me about a year to read West of Guam, but I enjoyed it very much, as you know. I just kept dipping in. Stay warm, have a good week. Hope the shoulder is improving and you’ll soon be doing pushups and driving again.

  6. tracybham says:

    Both of the books you read sound interesting, although I haven’t heard of either of the authors.

    I finished the 2nd Jack Reacher novel, Die Trying, last night. It is a long one but fast paced so did not seem so long. I just started the 4th Louise Penny book, A Rule Against Murder, this morning.

    Have been reading more slowly because my husband has had two eye surgeries in three weeks and all the attendant doctor visits and medications (drops) and worrying is tiring for both of us.

    • I had cataract surgery last year, left eye, then a month later right eye. Wow, what a difference! All the drops were a pain in the neck, but it was all worth it. Now I only need reading glasses, before I had to have far/near bifocals. I hope his surgeries went as well as mine did.

      • tracybham says:

        Thanks, Rick. His first surgery was for cataract in left eye, but he then had to had retinal surgery in that same eye. That one was much more invasive and is still painful and vision is blurry, but we have hopes that the vision will improve as a result. We think in Feb. he will have the cataract surgery in the right eye.

  7. I’m reading a couple of different books. LIFE L1K3 by Jay Kristoff is a teen science fiction novel that’s getting some buzz, and since I really enjoy books with A.I. characters I decided to give it a try. It is fun so far. Has the trappings of novels written specifically for teens, but thus far that hasn’t been a deterrent.

    I’m also reading short stories out of the collection The World Turned Upside Down. It features several authors I like and others I have not yet read, all classic science fiction, and thus far I haven’t found any real stinkers. I’ve had this for years and previously read parts of it. This was the first time I experienced “Cold Equations”, a story I enjoy a lot and don’t make friends when I recommend it to non-sci-fi readers, lol.

    I finished up 2018 reading Brandon Sanderson’s novel Skyward, which I thought was excellent. There is a sequel due out this year and I’m looking forward to that.

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