Friday, 11 November 2011

Latest Book Purchases

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I thought I'd take today to update on some of my latest book purchases. Mostly I've got them at my local used book stores, but also this weekend, the Rotary Club is having its annual charity book sale. I went on Thursday after work and spent an hour there, finding five new books (well, new for me of course). I may go early Saturday morning in case they've put out some new books from the back room. :0)

Shaken, Not Stirred
 Anyway, let's get on with this. Over the past couple of years, I've been reliving my teen years and slowly purchasing the James Bond books. I especially like these Pan editions, the covers are cool. I've read a couple so far, take one or two out a every couple of months. I recently purchased and finished Casino Royale, the first in the series. It was originally published in 1953, with this 25th printing coming out in 1967, clearly a successful, long lasting series. The Spy Who Loved Me came out in 1962, with this first Pan printing released in 1967. They are true classics and turned into a great movie series. I did a previous Blog on Bond. You can check it out here if you're interested.

Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes
 I have recently started checking out a couple of new series, well, purchased some books so far. Laurie R. King (for some reason, I've always read it as Laurier R. King.. strange) has two mystery series published. It was only while reading another story that I became aware of this and thought I'd check out the Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes books. The first in the series is The Beekeeper's Apprentice, which I don't have yet. It was published in 1994. A Monstrous Regiment of Women, which I found the other day is the second in the series and I think I'll wait to get the 1st before I take on any of the ones I have. The Game is number 7 and it was published in 2004. There are currently 11 books in the series. The basic gist of the series is that Mary Russell becomes Sherlock Holmes' apprentice and, of course, they become involved in cases together. That's about all I can tell you until I get down to reading the stories. I'll keep you posted.

Kurt Wallander mysteries
Another new series for me is that of the Kurt Wallander mysteries, written by Henning Mankell. The wife and I had watched the BBC series, starring Kenneth Branagh as Wallander and had enjoyed. So I have been looking at the books, as I do enjoy the Scandinavian mystery writers, Jo Nesbo, Karin Alvtegen, Stieg Larsson and Hakan Nesser. I found this one, the sixth in the series, which was published first in English 2011.

It involves the murder of 4 nuns and another woman in Africa. This case has a role to play in another murder case that Inspector Wallander is involved with, a year later back in Sweden. I believe I've seen the TV version, but it's been long enough that it should still seem fresh and I look forward to reading it.

In 2012, besides my other reading challenges, I plan to focus on mysteries, as I have so many to read. I've promised myself that my second book will always be a mystery, working my way up from A ....... wherever I end up at the end of the year. I can't wait!

Albert Campion mystery
 I'm just in the process of finishing Pearls Before Swine, my first Albert Campion mystery by Margery Allingham and I've quite enjoyed. At the Rotary Club Book Sale on Thursday, I found another, The Tiger in the Smoke, which was originally published in 1952, with this Bantam Book edition published in 1985.

I also have another Campion mystery on my shelf, Black Plumes, which came out in 1940. Margery Allingham lived from 1904 - 1966 and wrote over 30 stories. According to wikipaedia, there was a BBC series from 1989 -1990, starring Peter Davison as Albert Campion.

I've quite enjoyed my first Campion mystery, set during WWII, involving a murder and theft of valuable art collections. Campion is an interesting character and the people around him, Inspector Oates, Lugg and others make the story flow very smoothly.

Having read one, I now look forward to reading more Campions. The Tiger in the Smoke, sounds very interesting, involving lost husbands, a triple murder. Woo hoo!

Inspector Grant
 Another British police series that I began recently, was that of Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard. The series, which consisted of 8 novels, written by Elizabeth MacIntosh under the pseudonym of Josephine Tey.

I had recently read A Shilling for Candles, the second in the series. It was also the basis for Alfred Hitchcock's 1937 movie, Young and Innocent. I like the story, liked the character of Inspector Grant and also the supporting cast, especially Erica Burgoyne, the daughter of the local Chief Constable.

I found the first novel in the series, The Man in the Queue, recently and it seemed to be an interesting premise. Written in 1929, the story involves a murder in a line-u for a musical comedy. One man in the line-up is discovered with a silver dagger in his back. This begins Inspector Grant's first case for Josephine Tey. It should be great!

Elizabeth MacInstosh lived from 1896 to 1952. She also wrote under the pseudonym of Gordon Daviot.

Anna Pigeon mysteries
 Where next.. At the Rotary Club Sale, I found some additions to series that I have been reading off and on for quite a few years.

I've read a few of Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon novels and, with the exception of Flashback, have enjoyed every one of them.

Anna Pigeon is a National Parks Ranger whose mysteries take her to many of the US National Parks. The stories are well-written and Anna is a well-crafted character, as are the mysteries that she finds herself in the midst of.

Nevada Barr is writing from an area of experience as she has worked as a Park Ranger. The different locales, from Natchez Trace Parkway to Isle Royal National Park to Yosemite National Park, etc, make the stories different and interesting.

Endangered Species was written 1997, the 5th in the series, and takes place at Cumberland Island National Seashore, off the Georgia Coast. The area is the breeding ground of the endangered Loggerhead turtle. The story involves a plane crash, sabotage, old murders and danger to the fragile ecological preserve, all tied together hopefully into another exciting Anna Pigeon mystery.

Roderick Alleyn mysteries
 I've collected more Ngaio Marsh, Roderick Alleyn mysteries, than I've read. From 1934 to 1982, she wrote 32 novels, classing her with Agatha Christie, amongst others, as one of the major mystery writers of her time.

Death in Ecstasy was originally published in 1936 and was her 4th novel. What I find different with Ms. Marsh's mysteries is the play-like set-up of the novels; the cast of characters in the beginning, the breaking down of the story into Part 1 and Part 2. Several of her stories are set around theatrical productions.

A native New Zealander, the majority of her mysteries are set in England, as CID detective, Roderick Alleyn is based in England. 4 of the novels she wrote were set in New Zealand, though, with Alleyn either on vacation or seconded to the New Zealand police force.

This particular novel involves the poisoning of an initiate to the House of the Sacred Flame, with suspects coming from amongst the others in the House. It's always nice to settle down with a Marsh mystery, easy to read and interesting stories.

Wycliffe mysteries
 WJ Burley is the one of the other police procedural that I follow. Burley wrote from 1968 to 2000, publishing 22 Wycliffe novels. They feature Superintendent Wycliffe who solves his crimes in the Cornish coast area.

I do like these mysteries, as they are definitely police stories; the setting up of the crime lab where the mysteries occur, the door-to-door investigations, just what you expect.

The area is also a highlight, the scenic Cornish coast. The crimes are interesting and Wycliffe is an interesting protagonist.

I've read a few of these mysteries. The Tangled Web was published in 1988 and the storyline concerns Hilda Clemo, a school girl who tells her boyfriend and family of her pregnancy and disappears from her village the same afternoon.

Wycliffe is brought in to find the girl and from the synopsis, must also deal with a feuding clan with unpleasant secrets. Sounds like a Wycliffe novel.

The remaining three books I've purchased over the past couple of weeks are 'one ofs' I guess. None of the authors are unfamiliar to me and I've read some of their previous stories, but they don't necessarily fit any particular scheme of mine.

A Gun For Sale
First is an author I've read off and on since my university days. I've recently reacquainted myself with his work; Our Man in Havana and Brighton Rock, especially. At the Rotary Club sale, they had one section with a great many Greene novels to choose from. I chose A Gun for Sale as it looked interesting.

It was originally written in 1936 and has been republished many times, this edition came out in 1972. Greene wrote over 30 novels during his life, with his first published in 1929. Many of his novels have been turned into movies. He is a popular author whose stories are still very interesting.

The storyline for this particular novel reads; "Murder didn't mean much to Raven. Assassinating an idealistic War Minister to boost the armaments industry was just a job. But when he is paid in stolen notes he determines to revenge himself against his corrupt employers. And in a tortuous double hunt this seedy outlaw becomes the unwitting weapon of a kind of social justice."

Greene has a way with words and his stories are always interesting. I hope this one follows the trend.

A Spot of Bother
 I purchased Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time back in 2005 and it was one of my highlight reads of that year. Such a different, interesting story.

I've been meaning to purchase A Spot of Bother for a long time as it also sounds interesting. I finally found a copy at my local and this time picked it up.

It was originally published in 2006 and is the second of only two of Mark Haddon's novels that were written for an adult audience. His others, and there are many, are listed under youth categories.

The storyline for this novel reads as follows - "At sixty-one, George Hall is settling down to a comfortable retirement. When his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is married to the deeply inappropriate Ray, the Hall family is thrown into a tizzy. Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.
As parents and children fall apart and come together, Haddon paints a disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely."

If this story is half as good as the first, I'm sure I'll enjoy it immensely.

Funeral in Berlin
 Len Deighton is one of the most prolific spy novelists ever, with pretty well a novel a year since his first, The Ipcress File, was published in 1962. I have to say I've never read any of his stories; he was more my older brother's style.

However, I did like the cover of this particular one when I saw it at the Rotary Club sale. It's one I've thought of getting for a while, so I figured for the $.50, it was worth a go.

His novels have been popular as movies too, with Michael Caine starring as Harry Palmer, in The Ipcress File and Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar Brain.

I hope that the story is as interesting as it looks. It may get me to read more Deighton novels.

Next time, I'll update the stories I've been reading of late.

Keep on reading.

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