Saturday, 13 November 2010

Book Purchases and a What I'm Reading Update.

In an earlier Blog I updated on what I've been reading. At the time I was working through a couple of mysteries. I've since finished both and must say they were both enjoyable and exciting.

The Delicate Storm, by Giles Blunt, is a Canadian mystery (Note as per normal, there may be some spoiler content although I won't ruin the ending for you.) set in North Bay, Ontario, the town I was born in. For the purposes of his novels, Blunt calls the town Algonquin Bay, but pretty well everything else is recognizable as North Bay.

This is the second in the John Cardinal mysteries, Cardinal being an inspector for the Algonquin Bay police force. His partner, once again, is Inspector Lise Delorme, a northern Ontario French Canadian. They have a nice relationship, some twinges of possible romance, but Blunt doesn't make a bit deal about it. In fact, in this story, the relationship between Cardinal and his wife is nicely developed in this story.

As per the first story in the series, this one is nicely developed, with a few twists and turns to make it very interesting. There are parts to be played by both the RCMP and the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS). The story definitely has a Canadian feel; weather always playing a part, historical reference to one of Canada's major events of the 70's, the FLQ crisis. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to the next, Black Fly Season (yup, definitely Canadian..)

The second book I had on the go was John Dunning's The Bookman's Promise, the third in the Cliff Janeway mystery series. Janeway is a Denver ex-cop, who has become a used/ antique bookseller.

One thing I enjoy about the stories are the discussion of books, especially collectibles and each story revolves around antique books. Being someone who loves wandering around used book stores, makes Dunnings stories even more interesting.

In this story, Janeway is involved solving a murder, of course, and also tracking down a collection of books by Sir Richard Burton. The search is on behalf of an old woman, one of whose book Janeway had purchased at an auction.

Needless to say, there is murder, mystery and an interesting journey following Sir Richard Burton's wanderings around the Eastern states before the Civil War. If you enjoy a good mystery and hunting for used books, the Janeway books are for you. And I don't think you necessarily have to read them in sequence, although probably a good idea to at least start with Booked to Die as it does explain how Janeway goes from the Police Force to bookseller.

What I'm currently Reading.

Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom is a historical mystery. It's the second book in the Matthew Shardlake series. Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer working for Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry VIII. The first story, Dissolution, was excellent and so far this one is equally good.

Set in 1540, andduring the hottest summer of the 16th century, Shardlake finds himself involved in two different mysteries. Firstly he is trying to help a young girl, Elizabeth, defend herself against charges that she murdered her male cousin. Compounding the difficulties of this case is the fact that the young girl won't speak about anything.

In the other case, Shardlake has been called back to work by Thomas Cromwell to search out the Dark Fire, a legendary substance that supposedly the Byzantines used to destroy Arab navies.

So far, the story is moving along nicely and once again Sansom has drawn an intricate, suspenseful story. Looking forward to reading more.

The other story, my bedside table book, is The Ugly American, written in 1958 by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. This version was published 1969. This was one of two novels written by the two dealing with American foreign policy in the Far East.

The novel, along with the sequel Sarkhan, are set in the fictitious nation, Sarkhan, of course. The novel was an attempt to show Americans that their foreign policies weren't working and that there were other ways of achieving their aims and helping these other countries. That involved learning local customs and languages, following the way of life, etc.

I read the novel once before in junior high school and was totally hooked by the story. Sarkhan, as well, struck a chord with me. Eugene Burdick also wrote one of my favourite novels of that time, Fail Safe, probably one of the best political thrillers ever.

I bought this book in one of my used book store searches and wanted to see if it was as good now as I remembered it. So far, so good.. :0)

Rotary Club Book Sale

This weekend, the local Rotary Club has been having a book sale in the local shopping mall. Jo and I went to take a look while we were doing out grocery shopping yesterday and happily for both of us, we managed to find some books of interest. The price sure was right, $2 for hard covers, $1 for non - fiction paperbacks and $.50 for your standard paperback.

Jo found herself a Terence Conran design book, The Soft Furnishings Book. She said it was a bit out of date as it was originally published in 1986, but looking through it, the book is in such excellent condition.

As well, it's just a pleasure to look through, lovely photos, well - organized, as any Terence Conran book seems to be. It adds to her collection as Jo does like her design and decorating books and has a nice selection.

For $1.00, you can't go wrong. Definitely an excellent worthwhile purchase.

The other book she found was an interesting selection. Written in 1999, it's a series of short anecdotes by Carl Reiner, How Paul Robeson Saved My Life, one of the funniest comedians ever.

Another good buy, it was $2.00. Lovely condition again, it looks like it might be an interesting, humourous read.

Comments on the back, include Mel Brooks' "Surprisingly funny.", as he would say, being such a close friend.

I like Neil Simon's comment, "How Paul Robeson Save My Life is Carl Reiner's funniest book. Maybe it's because it's his shortest book. I love short, funny books."

Jo was pleased with her finds. I think I might enjoy reading the Carl Reiner one, looks good.

Now my purchases. I've grouped them to make it easier to show and take up a bit less space.
The Grand Dame of Mystery

I've bought a few of Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn mysteries before and have enjoyed them. It was really nice to find a few more buried in the boxes at the Book sale.

The French Police Inspector
Another mystery series that I enjoy. It's one I can pick up as a short, nicely written mystery. Maigret works in Paris and his cases are always enjoyable.

Tried and true mysteries
There was such an excellent, wide variety of books available. You just had to be patient and search through the boxes and boxes. I found some familiar, tried and true mystery writers; Josephine Tey, with an Inspector Grant mystery, a lucky Wycliffe find (always enjoy his mysteries) and one by one of the most prolific mystery writers ever, John Creasey. This one was written in 1945 and is a Patrick Dawlish mystery. Creasey is also known for his Gideon mysteries, written as JJ Marric, his Doctor Palfrey adventures, etc.  I was happy to find these.

Classic Spy/ Adventure Thrillers
I've been reliving the past a bit in recent years, collecting some of those books that I enjoyed so much as a kid. I was very pleased to find a Bond spy thriller, Dr. No, that I didn't have yet. I used to read these as guilty pleasures in Junior High school, lots of adventure, a bit of sex. I love the covers, even if they are a bit beaten up; in the great tradition of those flashy pulp fiction books. I've also been starting to collect Alistair MacLean books as well, even wrote a Blog on those I'd already collected a few weeks ago. MacLean wrote some of my favourite adventures and I looked forward to finding them in the book shelves at the Canex Bookstore in Lahr, Germany.

New Mysteries
I've seen both Margery Allingham and Patricia Wentworth before in my searches through my used book store but have felt I probably shouldn't start new series when I've got so many on the go. But I couldn't resist this time. So I figured I'd try a Miss Silver mystery by Patricia Wentworth and an Albert Campion mystery by Ms. Allingham. The missus tells me that the BBC had a series of Campion mysteries, starring Peter Davison of Dr Who and All Creatures Great and Small fame.

Also a great movie
This was a most fortunate find. I've enjoyed both movie versions of The Flight of the Phoenix. I probably prefer the Jimmy Stewart version, although, I think Jo liked the newer version because Hugh Lawrie was in it. So I was surprised to find the book at the sale. I really liked the cover, so it became a must have.

Two Classics
I couldn't resist these two. Both are favourites of mine that I've read a few times over the years. But I no longer had copies on the book shelves at home. When I saw these, both Penguin editions and both in excellent condition, I had to pick them up. All in all, Jo and I had a successful outing and we are both happy with our finds.

Keep buying books!!

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