BOOK & BLOG
December 28, 2009
Books of the Week:
I’m wrapping up the year’s reading. This is such a diverse bunch of books, I’m sure there’s something for everyone in here.
Boston Noir is my favorite anthology of the year, and not just because my friend Dana Cameron has a story (“Femme Sole”) in it. I like the length of the stories, I like the wide range of writers, and I like the punch carried by the best of the short stories included, all by Boston area writers writing about their city. Lynne Heitman’s lead-off story, “Exit Interview,” packs a special wallop.
Christopher Moore’s next Abby Normal book, Bite Me, isn’t out yet, but you should put it on your to-buy list for APRIL. Christopher Moore makes me laugh out loud, which is recommendation enough in and of itself. His wonderful imagination and dialogue are icing on the triple-chocolate cake.
Under the Dome is not for the weak of heart or the weak of arm. This is a whopping book, over a thousand pages, but King never falters in this tale that proves once again why he has topped the bestseller lists for so many years. King handles a huge cast magnificently, and his story of people in a small Maine town who (in the middle of a fall day) find themselves imprisoned inside a dome is a show-stopper. I plowed through this novel in three days, and I recommend this method. If you try to read it in increments, you’ll forget who’s who, though there’s a handy cast list (including the dogs) at the beginning.
I haven’t read an autobiography in a long time, so I was a little doubtful when a friend sent me Katharine Graham’s. Of course, I knew who she was; anyone old enough to have lived through Watergate knows who Katharine Graham is. I had no idea her life was so privileged and yet so harsh, and the contrast is what made her what she was, I’m sure. I especially admire Personal History’s account of her struggle to master the business her father and husband had worked to build up. This would be a great book for a young woman who does NOT remember what it was like before the women’s liberation movement.
If you’re a THREE MUSKETEERS fan (I read this book many times growing up), The Cardinal’s Blades is for you. Otherwise, not, I think. It’s written in a style very like Dumas’s, and one of the characters from Dumas’s book actually appears in Blades, but most of the characters are quite different and there are dragons. What can I say? There’s a bit more grittiness in the narrative, the conspiracies and the double crossings are numerous, and there are duels and betrayals. In the end, the dragons don’t seem that important.
Nicole Peeler’s Tempest Rising turned out to surprising fun. I only say “surprising” because I truly hated the cover. I know Nicole Peeler loves it, because I’ve met her and she was charming, but I had to force myself to read the book. I’m glad I did, because it was a treat. Jane, who lives with her dad in a remote New England coastal town, has a rough life. Her mother has vanished years before, her father is ailing, the townspeople treat her badly, and she has a huge secret. But we come upon her story just when things are changing for Jane, in a very exciting and frightening way. After she finds the body and pulls it to the shore, nothing in Jane’s life is the same, and that’s at least partially in a good way.
The Case of the Missing Servant is a conventional mystery set in modern India. The protagonist is Vish Puri, an Indian private detective who is a most curious mixture of conceit, ability, cleverness, and cluelessness. Vish Puri has a wife, a busybody mother who thinks her son needs her help, two beloved daughters, and a great reputation as a detective, which he richly deserves. Vish Puri is hired to do what seems a hopeless task; find a missing servant named Mary, who had been at her job for a short time, left no last name, and then vanished into a country of more than a billion people. Vish Puri is really like an Indian Hercule Poirot, and The Case of the Missing Servant, while a pleasant and well-written mystery, is a fascinating picture of modern India.
Kelly Meding’s Three Days to Dead has an interesting premise. The heroine awakens in a body that’s being autopsied. Of course, this is quite a shock for the medical examiner. Evy Stone is shocked to discover she’s in someone else’s body. She discovers she has three days to find out who killed her, or she’ll be dead for good. This is a fast-paced adventure that rocks along to a very tense climax.
When I write my next blog, it’ll be 2010. I really can’t hope that 2010 will be even better than 2009, because that was a good a year as a year can be, at my house. I do hope, in the broad picture, that next year sees a return to economic health, the adoption of a health care plan that will benefit Americans who can’t now afford insurance and medicines, and a stepback on the fronts where we’re fighting. I’d wish for peace on earth, but I sadly accept that isn’t going to happen in my lifetime.
On a personal level, I wish good health and financial stability to all my readers. If those two factors are under control, anything else that happens is much easier to bear, in my experience.
Thanks to all of you for continuing to follow Sookie’s and Harper’s adventures. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written for the coming year, and I hope there are many good books in your “to be read” pile.
Happy New Year!
© 2009 Charlaine Harris