Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Just a quickie - Books to read in 2011

Over at the goodreads site, I've been involved with a few of the book groups. In one of them, Book Addicts, the folks are putting down their lists of individual challenges for 2011; what they would like to read basically. I took a look through my 'To Be Read' bookshelves and came up with a list of 24 books that I plan to try and read in 2011 (not to say I won't read more, but I do want to read these books). They are a mix of mysteries and SciFi stories. In most cases, they are authors I haven't read before; especially the mysteries.

So here goes, my lists of books to read in 2011.


Patricia Wentworth's Wicked Uncle was published in 1947 and is a Miss Silver mystery. A gathering of house guests with nothing in common until the host, the 'wicked' Gregory Porlock is found with a knife in his back. Only 'Miss Silver' will be able to see through the motives and clues.

Lynda LaPlante's Above Suspicion, of Prime Suspect fame, was published in 2006. Introducing Anna Travis who must solve her first murder case, a series of killings that has shocked even the most hardened detectives.

Kay Mitchell's A Lively Form of Death was originally published in 1990. Chief Inspector Morrissey must try to solve 3 near perfect murders, perhaps more as the trail leads back to an unsolved case of missing boys.

A.A Milne, better known for his Winnie-the-Pooh books wrote The Red House Mystery in 1922. Crime investigator Antony Gillingham, whose skills rival Sherlock Holmes, works to solve the murder of Mr Mark Ablett's brother, plus the possible disappearance of Mark as well. Did the key to the mystery lie on the premises or in the dark recesses of the human heart?

Margery Allingham first published Pearls Before Swine in 1945. This is an Albert Campion mystery; a gentleman who works as a confidential investigator. In this case he tries to solve the murder of the woman found in the Marquess of Carados bed.

Deadlock by Iris Johansen is about John Garrett, an ex-operative for the  CIA / British Intelligence and anyone else who will hire him. In this story he is hired to track down and save two archaeologists and finds himself drawn into an astonishing adventure.

Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train was her first novel and was written in 1950. It is well known as one of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. How do two strangers who meet on a train plot the perfect murders? You have to read.

Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare was published published in 1942. Francis Pettigrew must investigate a series of unrelated mishaps to determine if they are nasty practical jokes or whether someone is trying to murder Judge William Hereward Barber of the Southern Circuit court.

King of Rainy Country was written by Nicholas Freeling. It is an Inspector Van der Valk mystery. In this story, Van der Valk tracks a missing millionaire who has disappeared; tracking him from Cologne to Innsbruck and learning about the ways of the wealthy and the fury of a jealous woman.

Mistress of Death is a historical mystery by Ariana Franklin. Published in 2007 it is set in medieval Cambridge, Henry VII asks the King of Sicily for his master of the art of death to help solve the murders of 4 children. This Italian doctor and expert in the art of anatomy (an early medical examiner) is also a woman, Adelia. Facing danger at every turn and assisted by the one of the King's tax collectors, she follows the byways of Cambridge to try and solve the murders before the murderer strikes again.

Known for his Horatio Hornblower books, C.S. Forester wrote Payment Deferred in 1926, a story which was chosen as one of the 99 best crime stories ever. It is described as a chilling story whose oppressive suspense accumulates like storm clouds until relief is brought by the masterly shock ending.

A more recent mystery is Mark Billingham's Sleepyhead which was originally published in 2001. DI Tom Thorne must try to find the person who left Alison Willetts in a state known as Locked-In Syndrome, a state which leaves her unable to move or communicate but able to hear, see and feel. It has taken three women murdered to achieve success in his latest crime.

Back to an older story with this last mystery, published in 1929 was Anthony Berkeley's The Poisoned Chocolate Case.  In this mystery, the famous Crime Circle Club is determined to assist Scotland Yard solve the murder of the wife of George Bendix who was poisoned with a box of chocolates, which seem to have been meant for someone else. Each member has a theory; one will be right and one will be 'dead wrong'.

Science Fiction

Canadian writer, Phyllis Gotlieb wrote Son of the Morning in 1983. Two giant crimson cats from a primitive planet were sent to Sol Three. They took the brain-in-a-bottle, Espinoza, who had once lived on Earth as an interpreter. However their journey is made more complex as they enter a time warp and end up in Poland hundreds of years before Espinoza was born.

The next novel pictured is a style I remember fondly; that being two books in one. The first is The Unteleported Man by Philip K. Dick from 1964, the story of Rachmael ben Applebaum who challenges the mighty Telpor corporation to travel to Utopia the old long way, rather than use the instant-teleport system they have developed. On the flip side is Howard L. Cory's The Mind Masters, published in 1966. It tells the adventures of Irishman Terence O'Corcoran who crash lands on an alien world an must face the most vile creatures imaginable.

Whitley Streiber and James Kunetka wrote one of my favourite SciFi novels, Warday. In 1986, they collaborated on Nature's End, a story set in 2025 (not that far away now). Immense numbers of people swarm the globe. In astonishing ways, technology has triumphed, but at a staggering cost. Starvation is rampant, city dwellers gasp for breath under blackened skies; the world may be ending. (Sound familiar?)

Finally in this group, a story from Ursula Le Guin who wrote another of my all-time favourite SciFi novels, The Left Hand of Darkness. This story, The Lathe of Heaven, written in 1971, tells the stories of George Orr, a dreamer, whose dreams come true. George can change the world. In the hands of a power-mad psychiatrist, George is forced to dream and dream again, seeking Utopia, but threatening the fabric of existence.

Fred Hoyle and his son, Geoffrey collaborated on this story which records the first landing on the grassy slopes of the deceptively peaceful planet, Achilles. Fifth Planet was written in 1963 and according to the Sunday Times is the best so far from the Hoyle stable; strong praise from the family that also brought A for Andromeda.

J.G. Ballard explores many strange concepts in his SciFi stories. In The Crystal World, written in 1966, he travels to darkest Africa where Dr Edward Sanders finds himself in a world that defies scientific belief. By some force, the landscape is being transformed and encrusted with deadly jewel-like forms.

John Brunner gave us Stand on Zanzibar in 1968 and The Sheep Look Up in 1972. In 1975 he wrote The Shockwave Rider, he tells us about Nickie Haflinger, a man who had lived a score of lifetimes, but technically didn't exist. He must fight the government of Tarnover to try and restore sanity and personal freedom to the masses.

Some light reading next from the annals of The Dresden Files. Jim Butcher's second story in the series is Fool Moon, written in 2001. With Chicago dead quiet, Harry Dresden, the only professional wizard in the phone book can't drag up any business. Until a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.

Lined up next for 2011 reading is some grand old outer space adventure from Lester del Rey. Published in 1963 is Outpost of Jupiter.  When his father's illness stranded the Wilsons on Ganymede, Jupiter's small moon, Bob decided not to go to college but instead joined the colonists in their struggle against the moon's brutal environment. His attempts to discover a major mystery are thrown for a loop by a plague that is blamed on Bob!

Finally, there is a book of short stories by the Canadian wizard of computer cowboys and high tech lowlifes. William Gibson received great praise for his collection of short stories, Burning Chrome, which follows in the great tradition of Neuromancer and Count Zero.

So there you have it; books I've identified for definite reading in 2011. Mind you, I'm hoping I can read more than two books a month; those hardly make a dent in my shelves of too be read books. Wish me luck. :0)


  1. Good luck! Wish I could have more time and energy to do the same in 2011, but I’ll be glad to just be able to finish The labyrinth! - And If I finish that one, my next on the list is "Madam Terror" by Jan Guillou, a Swedish author, about the fictional Swedish spy Carl Hamilton - and about the relations between US and the arab world. It is basically from the Palestinian point of view in the conflict down there..

    I just love a good mystery! "Sleepy head" sounded awful though.. Locked in syndrome? I get the chills just imagining having that happening to me!

  2. That is a scary sounding condition, isn't it. I think there have been a couple of movies with that as a premise. Awake with Hayden Christenson and Jessical Alba was sort of about that. Good luck with your reading as well. :0)


Related Posts with Thumbnails