Monday, 28 July 2014

Currently Reading - Jul 2014

Just a quickie today on this hot, July 28th, to mention the three books I plan to finish off July with. All are crime novels, one a US thriller set in Atlanta, one a Norwegian thriller, but with the setting in Thailand and finally a true crime novel from 1965.

1. Triptych by Karin Slaughter - Karin Slaughter is well-known for her Grant County, Georgia series of crime novels, featuring pathologist Sara Linton and her husband. This book is the first in the Will Trent series, introducing GBI agent Trent to Slaughters fans. I'm well into the story at the moment and finding it very interesting. It focuses more on John Shelley, a paroled convict who finds himself in the midst of a serial killers crime wave while he has been trying to get his life back in order. Also in the story are Atlanta detective, Michael Ormerod, with a past of his own and Vice cop, Angie Polaski, who has her connections to all three persons. Interesting, tense story, gritty and with many twists and turns. It's been awhile since I've picked up a Slaughter mystery and I'm glad I did.

2. Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo - This is my third Harry Hole mystery, Harry Hole being a Norwegian Police inspector. I've previously read Redbreast and, most recently, Nemesis, and enjoyed both stories. This is an earlier Hole mystery, the second in the series and it finds Inspector Hole being sent to Thailand to help Thai authorities investigate the murder of the Norwegian ambassador in suspicious circumstances; those circumstances being found with a knife in his chest in a hotel known for prostitution. Harry finds himself working with a female Thai/ American investigator and her two assistants and trying to understand the workings of both Thai society and police work. Very interesting story so far and I'm enjoying as much as the other two I've previously read.

3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - This is new story for me. I've not previously seen the movie, but I did see the two films based on Capote's investigation of the crimes in Kansas as he prepares to write this story. I'm just getting into it so far, but finding his writing style very clear and straight forward. The story is in the earliest stages, as we are introduced to the Clutter family of Holcomb Kansas and the two protagonists, Dick and Perry who are making their way to Holcomb. I know there is a violent murder involved, but other than that, will be most interested in seeing how Capote reports it. :)

So there you go, a quickie update. Coming up in the next few days my review of July and look ahead at August's potential choices.

Enjoy the rest of your July!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Top Ten Lists - The Classics

It's a hot summer day, 25 degrees Celsius, according to the thermometer on my computer. The dogs are sprawled in the living room, panting and I'm braving the stuffiness in the computer room for an hour to write this. Brave man that I am.. :) Spent an hour watering the plants out front this morning, after dropping the missus off downtown and also laid some river rock around the BBQ. Will have Jo check that out when she comes home later on. I still have one bag left to play with. Enjoyed the coolish breeze for a little while, sitting in my lawn chair on the deck while reading Jo Nesbo's Nemesis.

So now I'm ensconced in the den, listening to Ken Bruce on BBC2 and thinking about classics. I will readily admit that my exposure to the classics (what exactly does that mean anyway?) is probably quite limited. In high school, I hated having to read Wuthering Heights  The Catcher in the Rye, amongst others. In university, I took a Classic Fiction course in my 3rd or 4th year and it included books such as Madame Bovary, James Joyce's Ulysses, Sons and Lovers and so many others. But at that time, I was more interested in my Science Fiction course and partying. In the past few years, however, I've been trying to expand my exposure to the classics and maybe it's a sign of my increased maturity (ha ha), but I'm enjoying them so very much for the most part.

So on that short note, I'm providing my current list of Top Ten Classics. Some of these books are in the late to mid-1900's but I still think they qualify as classics, for my definition, I think they have to stand the test of time; in that, no matter when they were written, people will still find them excellent stories and interesting to read. I will qualify this list by saying once again, my exposure is probably quite limited; I've read only one Jane Austen and have yet to brave Wuthering Heights again.. But at least it might be a discussion point and give you a few books you might like to check out. I hope in the next few years to be able to build on this list and expand to a Top 20 even.

So hear goes... for your viewing pleasure and maybe your agreement / disagreement with one or two. :0)

Top Ten Classics

10. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1929) - I've read this book a couple of times, once as Book Club edition, which included a number of Hammett's hard boiled mystery classics; Red Harvest, The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon, amongst others. I found this edition, published in 1972 by Vintage Books at the Comox Valley Book Fair in March 2012. Lovely paperback edition it is. I read it again August of last year and enjoyed it just as much. It is definitely a classic in the mystery genre and set the stage for so many more of the hard-boiled detective stories. It was also an excellent movie starring Humphrey Bogart and a cast of other luminaries, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, etc. Excellent story and well - worth reading. This was my most recent review..

"I've read before and was very happy to enjoy as much again this time. Dashiell Hammett has produced an excellent example of a hard-boiled mystery and Sam Spade is the penultimate gumshoe, staying one step ahead of trouble and playing off the baddies against each other. It's a classic mystery, turned into an excellent movie by John Huston, one of Humphrey Bogart's best movies. A great cast of characters, from Brigid O'Shaugnessy to Joel Cairo and Kasper Gutman, through his faithful, lovely secretary, Effie Perine. A story that everyone should read and marvel about."

9. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre (1963) - This is the third book from John Le Carre that features his intrepid spy, George Smiley and who became so very famous with the later trilogy; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. I have read at least one of the earlier books, but this is the one for me. I found this edition, published in 1980 by Pan Books at the same book fair, just a year earlier. I've found many excellent books at the twice annual fair, sponsored by the local Rotary Club and always enjoy myself wandering through the book stalls. Anyway, this is a classic of the Cold War spy novel and was made into an excellent movie starring Richard Burton as main character Alex Leamas. This is my review of this novel. -

"Fantastic story. A classic spy novel, classic Le Carre story. His third novel, after  Call for the Dead and a A Murder of Quality, it features tired spy, Alec Leamas, the British Secret Services Berlin organiser, who is called home for a special mission. I won't get into too many details as there are so many interesting surprises throughout the story, that I wouldn't want to ruin the story. There is a brief role for Le Carre's most famous spy, George Smiley, but the story revolves mostly around Leamas. The spy craft is interesting, the plot twisting, the story fascinating and one you will have difficulty putting down. An excellent story for those who enjoy spy dramas and also a nicely historical feel for the cold war between the West and East.. Great stuff.. "

8. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955) - This is by one of my favourite Science Fiction writers and one that should be read many times. Having said that, I could easily have picked another of his classics, The Day of the Triffids. I've chosen this one as I like the themes of genetic mutation and the consequences of post-apocalyptic disasters. This is a book I wish someone would turn in to a movie or BBC mini-series as I believe, if developed caringly, could become a classic. It's a book I must reread as it's been too long since the last time. This edition was published by Penguin Classics in 1974 and I've had since my university days. This is the synopsis on the back -

"A world paralysed by genetic mutation. John Wyndham takes the reader into the anguished heart of a community where the chances of breeding true are less than fifty per cent and where deviations are rooted out and destroyed as offences and abominations."

Lovingly written, powerful youngsters as characters, fascinating story.

7. On the Beach by Nevil Shute (1957) - For some reason, a few of my 'classics' are from the Science Fiction genre. I found this edition, published by Ballantine Books in 1977, at Books on View in Victoria, BC in 2008. It's a book I've read so many times and I never tire of it, still find it poignant and so lovingly written each and every time. I've been expanding my reading of Nevil Shute's writings and I have to say he would definitely be in my top ten authors (ohhhhh, I see another list coming) of all-time. He writes simply but his stories evoke so many emotions in me. Check out Pied Piper or The Far Country for other examples. This is another of those post-apocalyptic novels, with the people of the Southern Hemisphere basically waiting for the end of the world and dealing with the consequences of a nuclear World War. Such dramatic consequences but told in such a manner that you actually want to be with these last survivors, who deal with such class and sensitivity. At least two movies have been made of the novel, the earliest I think was the best. Must read classic.. And here is my latest review -

"One of my top ten favourite books. I've read it so many times and also seen the movie with Gregory Peck a few times. So low key, yet it's the end of the world. US submarine in Australia, trying to see if there is any life in the Northern hemisphere. Life in Australia as the end draws near. US submarine makes final voyage to US.
Truly fantastic story.
Having read this again, it's still a great story, what a powerful lesson to teach mankind. So depressing, ultimately, but told with class."

6. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence (1928) - I have to say that I was so very surprised by this book. I read as part of one of my book group challenges this year, that being to read a book in the Erotic genre. Of course, this was the book I chose and I was pleasantly surprised to find this was so much more than that. Well-written, great characters, especially Lady Chatterley, and an excellent story. I found this particular edition, published by Vintage Books in 2011, at The Laughing Oyster book store in Courtenay, BC and it did shock the missus a bit.. ;0). So here is my review..

"Definitely a book out of my normal comfort zone, but such an excellent read. I had ideas about what to expect; a banned book, due to its rawness, explicit sexual language, but I was surprised. It's a thoughtful story of a woman, living in a marriage with a broken man; physically broken from the war, but also emotionally broken. Constance loves Clifford Chatterley anyway, cares for him, comforts him, but finds her life to be stagnant, loveless, emotionless. She meets Oliver Mellors, an other ex-soldier who now works as the game keeper on the Chatterley estate and finds herself drawn to him. The story is about their developing relationship, both emotional and sexual. I expected the sex to be graphic, raw, but other than some language, it was crafted very lovingly, very gently on the whole. The story itself is interesting, the characters as well and the interludes describing the countryside, coal mining country are also well-crafted. An excellent story and I'm glad I finally pulled the book off my shelves to read."

5. The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham (1944) - I found this novel while wandering around Kingston Ontario with the missus back in 2013. It wasn't a book store per se, rather a collectibles store that was unfortunately in the process of closing down. The store was Turks and had many interesting items. This edition is a hard back published by Blakiston Company in 1945 and my copy actually looks very much like that, right down to the little tears in the jacket. Anyway, I started reading the book while Jo and I were attending the World Figure Skating championships in London Ontario and found that I couldn't put it down. What a fascinating story, so simply written but so thoughtful and excellent. This is my review at the time

"I'd never read any Somerset Maugham before and really had no desire to read anything by him either. However recently I saw The Razor's Edge in a antique/ collectibles shop and I liked the look of it. Since one of my Reading groups was reading Modern English Classics as this month's genre, I decided to read it. I must say that I was most pleasantly surprised. Maugham has a way about him of telling a story. His writing style is very fluid and eminently readable. The story was interesting, the dialogue flowed nicely and I found myself waiting anxiously to get back to the book when I put it down. Did a lot happen? It was a tale of people, specifically friends of Maugham's, as he is the narrator and a character, who he spends time with and observes. I liked the characters and I liked Maugham as well. He's an observer of humanity and expresses his observations so very well. Anyway, I loved the story, it's one of my favourites of this year. Will I read any more of his books? Well I purchased The Moon and Sixpence yesterday, so I hope so.. :0)"

4. Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford (1924 - 1928) - This novel consists of 4 books and was published between 1924 - 28. I bought it for the missus due to the BBC mini - series that we both enjoyed so very much. It's one of my more challenging reads, I have to say, but I loved every page of it. It takes some time to get into the flow of the narrative, but when you do, it's hard to put the story down. Excellent book about pre - WWI, the war itself and the coping afterwards as seen through the eyes of Christoper Tietjens, his wife Sylvia and his lover, Valentine Wannop, plus other characters. The cover photo above is not the edition I have, but I could not find one on line. I purchased my edition, published by Penguin Books in 2012, at Novel Ideas in Kingston, ON. This is my review -

"This was a challenging, but ultimately, an enjoyable, interesting read. The book is made of four separate books, Some Do Not, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up and, The Last Post. It is set in England and France, before, during and after WWI. It deals with Christopher Tietjens, his wife Sylvia and Valentine Wannop, a young woman who has captured Christopher's heart. Around these people are family members, Christopher's brother, Mark; friends, associates and many others. Christopher's relationship with his wife is bitter and harsh, she goes out of her way to destroy his life, even though she won't grant him a divorce. At the same time, Christopher has fallen in love with the young woman, Valentine, who he met as a result of his father's friendship with her mother. Amidst these personal issues is the war, life in the trenches, all these matters. The story is detailed, it takes time to get used to the flow of the story, but when you do, it is most enthralling. The second and third books, which deal more with the War itself, I personally found the most interesting. Critics have said that there needn't have been a fourth book, that Christopher, himself, isn't really even present, but ultimately, I found that it wrapped up so many of the unresolved issues very nicely. Definitely worth reading, if you want to try a classic."

3. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (1876) - I guess this would qualify as the most 'classic' of my Top Ten, it having been written and published before 1900. Once again I took a chance on this due to my missus. She had enjoyed listening to a BBC Radio adaptation of the novel, starring Juliet Stevenson. I decided to buy her a copy, so on line I found a hard copy edition published by William Blackwood and Sons in 1877 and distributed by Scarthin Books, Cromford, UK. It turned out we also already had an edition published by Boston Estes and Sons in 1894 and purchased at a local Antique store, A Gentler Time. At any rate, I also bought the above edition, a Penguin Classic, as I really couldn't bear the thought of disrupting the pages of these earlier editions. So after all that, I read the book last year and after getting into the flow, loved it so very much. Such an excellent novel; I think my review provides an inkling of the story and characters, so I'll just go there.

"Not my normal story at all; I do tend to more light reading, thriller, adventure, but at times I do try to explore more challenging stories. This was definitely one of those. It's a true classic, well-written and intelligent. The story focuses on two main characters, Gwendolen Harleth, a selfish, young lady who thinks the world revolves around her and Daniel Deronda, a gentlemen, searching for himself. This search has many aspects, the simple one being trying to ascertain who his parents are as he has grown up under the protection/ guidance of Sir Hugo Mallinger from childhood. This also involves more internal searching, who is he, why does he think as he does. He is a caring individual, selflessly helping friends and strangers; his flighty school friend Hugo Meyrick, the lovely Jewess Mira and even Gwendolen.. There is so much in this book, unspoken love, a brief study of what it is like to be Jewish in those times, death, romance, etc. I was very surprised how much I enjoyed the story and as I worked my way through the initial pages to get accustomed to the style of the time, it was published in 1876, I enjoyed it immensely. As much as Gwendolen irritated me to no end with her selfishness, at the same time, there was an inkling of sympathy for the plight she finds herself in (even if much of it is due to her own actions) and ultimately.. well, I won't go there. It's a heavy tome, but well worth reading. I'm very glad I did."

And on to the Top Two. You will find write ups of both books in much earlier Blogs. Both books have been loving read many times and will be again. One is in the Science Fiction genre, the other would be classified as a Modern Classic, but is one of the best books ever written; definitely my all-time favourite book ever. So here we go...

2. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells  (1897) - A classic in the Science Fiction genre, possibly one of the best SciFi stories ever written. I've read so many times and it's stood the test of time. Unfortunately, it's never been made into a good movie; I prefer the early American version to Steven Spielberg's, Tom Cruise, version. The edition above is of course the Penguin Classic and was published in 1974 and it's another that has survived from my university days. The last time I read it was a few years ago, before I started writing reviews of my novels. For the uninitiated, it tells the story of an invasion of Earth by creatures from Mars. The setting is pre-War England and the story deals with their efforts to oust the Martians from Earth, after failed attempts to communicate with them. The story is told so matter-of-factly and so believably that it's not surprising that a radio broadcast of the story by Orson Welles in 1938 caused panic in the US as it was broadcast as a news broadcast. If you've never read any science fiction, read this first and you'll be hooked on the ideas and the genre itself. Fantastic story, a true classic that must be read.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) - My wife will not be surprised by this selection, except she might argue it's not a classic (probably not though). I can't tell you how many times I've read this book or seen the classic movie starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, but it's never grown old. The story is timeless, it tells of growing up, it tells of racism, it tells of heroism, and family and life and everything in one small story. Writing this chokes me up, the story chokes me up but at the same time makes me feel somewhat better about humanity in general and about the characters of this lovely, wonderfully crafted story of Scout Finch, a young girl who experiences so many things in her small town, things that affect her life in the present and the future... sorry for the run-on sentence, but I can think of no other book that affects me so very much and in so many ways. Everybody should be made to read it and / or to watch the movie. Simply said, it's fantastic! This edition was published in 2006 by Arrow Books and was a gift from my sister-in-law, it's a lovely simple cover, perfectly suited to the story within. I'd provide my review, but it says nothing at all that isn't in my comments above. READ IT!!

So there you have it, my initial Top Ten Classic books. What do you think? The den is hot and stuffy now so I think I'll sit outside with the dogs for a few minutes before we go check the mail.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Currently reading/ New purchases

Summer is finally here on the West Coast. The past 3 or 4 days have seen bright sunny skies and temperatures in the mid - high 20's.. (Celsius that is... 80's - 90's for those of you working in Fahrenheit still). I know it's not steam heat type temperatures, but that's one reason I moved out here; I prefer medians, winter temperatures near freezing and mild summer temperatures) This is almost too hot for me, I do prefer the nice breeze we had on Monday.. The nice temperatures have made our garden so very bountiful this year. The other day our Day lilies even blossomed. And the wall of hydrangeas look lovely, a nice mix of blues and whites..

So on to books.. Firstly, a bit about the three books I'm currently reading -

Currently Reading

1. Wool by Hugh Howey - This is a SciFi series, the Silo, basically made up of 9 books. The Wool Omnibus, which I'm reading, contains books 1 - 5; Holston, which covers the life of the current Sheriff of Silo, Proper Gauge, exploring the relationship of the Mayor and her deputy as they go into the depths of Silo to find a new Sheriff, Casting Off, that portion focusing on the new mayor, Juliette, The Unraveling, the events leading up to the 'war' and finally, The Stranded, which deals, as far as I know, with the aftermath and maybe the future?? It's an excellent SciFi story so far and there are so many things left to explain what the Silo is/ are and why they are there (wherever that might be) and so on. It's well-written and flows very nicely. Enjoying immensely so far and I've just started Book 5. I imagine I'll have to find the remaining.. :)

2. The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola (translated by Brian Nelson) - I'm getting into this story (a classic) quite well now and finding it very interesting and well-written. I always worry about reading a translation but Nelson has done an excellent job and it makes the book fluid reading. I mentioned this book as a future read in one of my previous Blogs and provided the synopsis so I won't get into it again here. Suffice it to say, it's set in France (Paris) in the mid 19th Century and focuses on the rise of the department store and its impact and effect on the lives of those involved with the store and those on the periphery.

3. Nemesis by Jo Nesbo (translated by Don Bartlett) - This is the fourth book in Norwegian author, Jo Nesbo's, Harry Hole police thriller series. I've read one previously, the third book, The Redbreast, and liked very much. Harry Hole is a police detective, troubled and an alcoholic, who is also an excellent investigator. The stories, at least so far, are dark, violent and interesting. In this story, which I'm about 1/3 of the way into, Harry is investigating a series of bank robberies, but also dealing with the death/ suicide/ murder (time will tell) of an old flame in her apartment. The problem is that Harry was supposed to go to her place for dinner, but he woke up in his own place, with a hangover and unsure of anything that happened that evening. So Harry is working to solve what happened with his girlfriend and at the same time trying to solve the bank robberies and prevent his life from unravelling. Interesting stuff.

New Books

I've got to say I was surprised how many new books I've purchased since the last time I listed any. I did return about 20 books to my local used book store, Nearly New Books, but since the end of Jun I managed to buy a few more. Some highlights, if not all, below.

1. The Missing File by D.A. Mishani (Mys) - Police Detective Avraham Avraham knows that when a crime is committed in his quiet suburb of Tel Aviv, there is little need for a complex investigation. He has found that the simplest explanation is always the answer... until now.

2. More Tales of the City by Armistad Maupin (Fic/ Hum) - I have previously read another book in this series, Further Tales of the City, and enjoyed it very much, humorous and light for the most part. "The divinely human comedy that began with Tales of the City rolls recklessly along as Michael Tolliver pursues his favourite gynaecologist, Mona Ramsey uncovers her roots in a desert whorehouse, and Mary Ann Singleton finds love at sea with the amnesiac of her dreams." Fun stuff, eh?

3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (True Crime) - Truman Capote's investigation of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas and of the two men who brutally killed them on the night of Nov 15, 1959.

4. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Fic/ Fan/ Mys) - I've heard so much about Jasper Fforde and have seen his books around so finally bit the bullet and bought this one. Sounds strange and interesting. "There is another 1985, somewhere in the could-have-been, where Thursday Next is a literary detective without equal, fear, or boyfriend. Thursday is on the trail of the villainous Acheron Hades who has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them for ransom. Jane Eyre herself has been plucked from the novel of the same name, and Thursday must find a way into the book to repair the damage. She also has to find time to halt the Crimean conflict, persuade the man she loves to marry her, rescue her aunt from inside a Wordsworth poem and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare's plays. Aided and abetted by a cast of characters that includes her time-travelling father, Jack Schitt of the all-powerful Goliath Corporation, a pet dodo named Pickwick and Edward Rochester himself, Thursday embarks on an adventure that will take your breath away."

5. Ratlines by Stuart Neville (Thriller) - I've read one other Stuart Neville thriller previously, The Ghosts of Belfast, which was excellent. I've had difficulties finding others of his books so was thriller to find this one, his fourth book. This is the synopsis, "Ireland, 1963. As the Irish people prepare to welcome President John F. Kennedy to the land ancestors, a German national is murdered and Lieutenant Albert Ryan is ordered to investigate. The German is the third foreigner to die within a few days, and Minister for Justice Charles Haughey wants the killing to end lest a shameful secret be exposed: the dead men were all Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government in the years following WWII. A note is found on the dead German's corpse, addressed to Colonel Skorzeny, Hitler's favourite commando: We are coming for you. Soon Ryan discovers a network of former Nazis and collaborators all presided over by Skorzeny. As he closes in on the killers, his loyalty is torn. Why must he protect the very people he fought against twenty years before?"

6. Winter Frost by R.D. Wingfield (Mys) - I've read 3 of the Inspector Frost books now and I want to have the complete collection (Wingfield only wrote 6 Frost mysteries). The books are excellent, different in some ways from the long-running TV series, but I enjoy both. Winter Frost is the 5th book in the series. "Denton is having more than its fair share of crime. A serial killer is murdering local prostitutes; a man demolishing his garden shed uncovers a long buried skeleton; there is an armed robbery at a local mini mart and a ram raid at a jewellers. But Detective Inspector Jack Frost's main concern is for the safety of a missing eight-year-old. Nine weeks ago, Vicky Stuart didn't return home from school. Then another girl is reported missing. Her body is found... raped and strangled. Frost's prime suspect hangs himself in his cell, leaving a note blaming Frost for driving him to suicide. Subsequent evidence points to the man's innocence. Coarse, insubordinate and fearless, DI Jack Frost is in serious trouble."

7. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy (Mys) - Silly enough, I needed a book by an author whose name ends in 'E' for one of my challenges. I've enjoyed the movies based on his books, especially LA Confidential, so when I saw this, besides the great cover, I thought I should check it out. "On Jan 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia - and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history. Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. but both are obsessed with the Dahlia - driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl's twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches - into a region of total madness."

Well, that was supposed to be it, but I spent an hour downtown today with the missus and while she shopped in Hot Chocolates, the best chocolate shop/ bakery downtown Courtenay, I checked out Second Page Used Books and found 3 more books.. :)

8. Dead Cold by Louise Penny - You may have noticed that I often collect series without having read any of the books. This has worked out for me for the most part; the odd series has been disappointing and the books have been returned to my local sight unread. This is a series I've not read any of yet, but have at least seen the CBC TV movie based on the first book, Still Life, the first Chief Inspector Gamache mystery, set in Quebec, Canada. Dead Cold is the second book in the series. I have three now and look forward to starting them. "Deep winter, and an electrocuted body lies in the snow beside a frozen lake, a cloud of footprints around it. It's the perfect crime; no witnesses, no clues. But when Chief Inspector Armand Gamache starts to untangle the victim's troubled past, he discovers a secret history filled with enemies and dark secrets. As a bitter wind blows across the landscape, something even more chilling is sneaking up behind Gamache..."

9. Cold Streets by P.N. Elrod (Vampire/ Mystery) - The Vampire Files books are part vampire story, part hard-boiled detective story, a la Dashiell Hammett. Jack Fleming is a vampire and detective who lives in Chicago during Prohibition and finds himself involved with a bit of everything. This is the 10th book in the Vampire Files series. "Everyone - the famous and the infamous - is braving the cold streets of Chicago to catch the talent at Lady Crymsyn, Jack Fleming's swank new nightclub. Like the mobster in town from New York City, looking to muscle in on the local gang boss - who happens to be a friend of Jack's. And the rich-kid -gone-bad who's on to Jack's unnatural secret - he's hanging around with blackmail on his mind. bullets will fly. Blood will flow. And it will become clear that the simple life of a club owner is not in the cards for a vampire with a thirst for justice. "

10. The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein (SciFi / 1957) - One of Robert Heinlein's earlier forays into Science Fiction. I used to read everything by him at one time, loved his ideas, his humour and his story - telling. I was pleasantly surprised to find a book I hadn't read and the story looked very interesting. "On the enlightened planet Earth it is no longer necessary to kill an enemy to get rid of him. It's just a matter of the 'long sleep' - a freezing process that keeps him in suspended animation for as long as necessary; a month, a year, a century. This is the story of a victim of the 'long sleep', a man who awakens in the future bent on revenge and finds himself trapped by the passage of time."

So there you go.. almost time for Jeopardy and Blue Jays baseball. I hope you find some of the story lines interesting enough to try the books out. Enjoy your summer!
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