Wednesday, 2 November 2016

October 2016 Book Buys

Got up early this morning. I was having strange dreams, which I can no longer remember. Also at 4, Clyde decided to jump off the bed, thinking maybe it was time for his walk. I persuaded him to get back in bed, but then basically I tossed and turned until 5. I didn't want to wake up the missus so the pups and I went out for our morning walk... in the rain. They had brekkie and I put on a pot of coffee and read Under the Dome for an hour or so. I'm enjoying it very much but it's so long, I don't think I'll finish before I head off on my quick trip, but I should be able to finally finish when I return. (As an aside, I can't help thinking that Big Jim Rennie, the tyrant of the story, is a perfect model for Donald Trump... *sigh*... Sorry, enough political talk.)

For now, before I go wake up Jo, here are the books I bought in October. Mostly mysteries, but still a pretty nice mix. So as they say during the result show on Strictly Come Dancing, 'in no particular order', these are my monthly purchases.

1. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Ware is an English mystery, thriller writer. This is her debut novel, published in 2015.

"Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since the day Nora walked out of her old life and never looked back.
Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare's hen party arrives. A weekend in a remote cottage - the perfect opportunity for Nora to reconnect with her best friend, to put the past behind her.
But something is wrong.
Very wrong.
And as secrets and lies unravel, out in the dark, dark wood the past will finally catch up with Nora."

2. Trent's Own Case by E.C. Bentley. I read the first Philip Trent mystery earlier this year and I enjoyed very much. Trent is a gentleman sleuth, somewhat in the vein of Lord Peter Wimsey. Bentley only wrote 3 books in this series. I now have them all on my shelf and I'm looking forward to continuing his adventures. This book was originally published in 1936.

"Philip Trent returns! The hero of E.C. Bentley's masterpiece, Trent's Last Case, returns when the murder of a generous but most unpleasant philanthropist brings several of Trent's friends under suspicion. Shocked by the confession and suicide attempt of Bryan Fairman, a research scientist in the victim's employ, Trent investigates. And the first clue he turns up points straight at himself!"

3. And One To Die On by Jane Haddam. This is one of those series that I dust off and read a book every year or two. It features Gregor Demarkian, an ex-FBI profiler, who takes on cases as they please him. I've read four or five so far and enjoyed each and every one. This book is the 24th in the series and was originally published in 1996. So you see, they will last me awhile if I take my time to savour them. :0)

"A Birthday bash to die for! That's what Bennis Hannaford and ex-FBI special agent Gregor Demarkian are in for when they accept an invitation to the one hundredth birthday party of a Hollywood legend. The reclusive Tasheba Kent, femme fatale of the silent screen, is opening up her island off the coast of Maine for a sumptuous gala to celebrate a life filled with romance and scandal.
Nearly sixty years ago, Tasheba's off-screen rivalry with her equally famous sister, Lilith Brayne, led to a public battle for the love of Lilith's husband, handsome Cavender Marsh...and ended with Lilith's suspicious death. Now among Tasheba's guests is Cavender and Lilith's long-abandoned daughter, as well as a rabid memorabilia collector, a conscientious accountant, and a secretive reporter. All have come to toast the immortal star. But a killer stalks the island. And when death strikes, Gregor must stop the culprit...or none of them will celebrate their next birthday."

4. The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn by Colin Dexter. I've read the first book in the Inspector Morse series so far and enjoyed. I've also enjoyed the TV series, which the missus and I have been watching over the past year on our local British Columbia public broadcasting station, Knowledge TV. Of course, we've also enjoyed the follow-on series, Lewis and the precursor, Endeavour. From an excellent mystery book series, three excellent TV series were spawned. Not too shabby. This book is the third in the series.

"The newly appointed member of the Oxford Examinations Syndicate was deaf, provincial and gifted. Now he is dead...
And his murder, in his North Oxford home, proves to be the start of a formidably labyrinthine case for Chief Inspector Morse, as he tries to track down the killer through the insular and bitchy world of the Oxford colleges..."

5. The Empty Copper Sea by John D. MacDonald. I started the Travis McGee series a few years back and have enjoyed reading the first 5 books. It was a series I'd not thought I would like but I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy McGee's character and the cases he finds himself involved in. This is the 17th book in the series and was originally published in 1978.

"Everyone in Timber Bay thought my old friend, Van Harder, was responsible for his boss's death. Now Van wanted me to clear his name. Travis McGee, salvage expert, saver of souls and dreams.
First I had to find the truth behind Hub Lawless's disappearance. Was he dead? Maybe. No body had yet turned up. And there were lots of rumours about his being very much alive - hiding out in Mexico.
I figured we'd have to run down the clues at Timber Bay. If we could stay alive, that is. For the crowd in Hub Lawless's hometown was very strange - and very lethal..."

6. Death in Paradise by Robert B. Parker. I haven't started this series yet, but I have enjoyed the TV movie series, which stars Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone. Both Jo and I have enjoyed them very much so far. I've purchased a couple of the books but have yet to dust them off. I'm waiting to get the first book before I do. This book is the 3rd in the series and was published originally in 2001.

"Robert B. Parker is back in Paradise, where Detective Jesse Stone is looking for two things: the killer of a teenage girl - and someone, anyone, who is willing to claim the body..."

7. Open Season by Archer Mayor. This is another of those series that I've been waiting to get the 1st book before I start it. And lo and behold, I now have it. Open Season is the first in the Lt. Joe Gunther mystery series and was published in 1988.

"Someone had set up Jamie Phillips. When he walked in Mrs. Reitz's back door, the frightened widow cut loose with both barrels of her shotgun without so much as a hello. Even the police turned their heads when they saw the corpse.
But that was only the beginning. Jamie had been one of the jurors on the Kimberly Harris murder case three years ago. And whoever had choreographed his gruesome death wasn't going to stop - until all twelve jurors had been permanently removed..."

8. The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst. The Night Soldiers series has become one of my favourite war/ spy series. The nice thing about it is that each story is a standalone, featuring different characters. I've enjoyed each one immensely. Furst can certainly craft a tense thriller and create interesting characters. This is the 9th book in the series and was originally published in 2006.

"By 1938, hundreds of Italian intellectuals, lawyers and journalists, university professors and scientists, had escaped Mussolini's fascist government and taken refuge in Paris. There, amid the struggles of émigré life, they founded an Italian resistance, with an underground press that smuggled news and encouragement back to Italy. Fighting fascism with typewriters, they produced 512 clandestine newspapers. The Foreign Correspondent is their story.
Paris, a wintry night in 1938: a murder / suicide at a discreet lovers' hotel. But this is no romantic tragedy - it is the work of the OVRA, Mussolini's fascist secret police, and is meant to eliminate the editor of Liberazione, a clandestine émigré newspaper. Carlo Weisz, who has fled from Trieste and secured a job as a foreign correspondent with the Reuters bureau, becomes the new editor.
Weisz is, at the moment, in Spain, reporting on the last campaign of the Spanish civil war. But as soon as he returns to Paris, he is pursued by the French Surete, by agents of the OVRA, and by officers of the British Secret Intelligence Service. In the desperate politics of Europe on the edge of war, a foreign correspondent is a pawn, worth surveillance, or blackmail, or murder."

9. Rousseau's Garden by Ann Charney. I first heard of this book, by Canadian author Ann Charney, when I read a book by T.F. Rigeloff, which basically highlighted some of his favourite authors and books written in Canada. I added this book to my list of books to try and find and was surprised, when I checked on Abe Books, to discover that it was available from a bookseller who resides just about 10 minutes from me. If you want to check out his stock, just go to this link to  Purpora Books. Anyway, back to the book. It was published in 2001.

"A crisp March morning in the Buttes - Chaumont park in Paris. Claire, waiting to meet her husband, Adrian, has more than a tourist's passing interest in the place. She has come to France to be with Adrian while he researches a book on French gardens, but Claire's real mission is to find out what happened to her mother, Dolly, during her last stay in Paris. A promising sculptor and ardent admirer of the philosopher Jean - Jacques Rousseau, Dolly suffered a mysterious decline following her return home. Now severe panic attacks are forcing Claire to abandon her own work as a photographer. Is she repeating her mother's pattern? The answer, Claire believes, lies in the past.
Claire retraces Dolly's footsteps in Paris and in the nearby country-side, where Rousseau's spirit is still discernible. Claire's quest in France is filled with more than one startling discovery as she, Adrian, and their friends, navigate the tricky terrain of marriage, parenthood, friendship and love."

10 & 11. The Big Sleep (1939) & The Lady in the Lake (1943) by Raymond Chandler. I find myself lately purchasing some of the classics of the mystery genre. I recently purchased a collection of Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer short stories. This past weekend when I was wandering around 2nd Page Books in downtown Courtenay, I noticed a collection, Vintage Crime, of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe books and decided to try a couple. Loved the covers and the condition of the books. These are the synopses of each.

10. "Raymond Chandler's first novel, published in 1939, introduces us to Philip Marlowe, a thirty-eight year old private detective moving through the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930's. The case involves a paralysed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail, and murder."

11. "Raymond Chandler's fourth novel takes Philip Marlowe out of his usual habitat of city streets into the mountains outside of Los Angeles in his strange search for a missing woman."

12. Dear Life by Alice Munro. Canadian writer, Alice Munro, is such a talented author and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013 as the 'master of the contemporary short story'. This collection was published in 2012.

"In story after story in this brilliant new collection, Alice Munro pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter, an action not taken, or a simple twist of fate. here characters are flawed and fully human; their stories draw us in with their quiet depth and surprise us with unexpected turns. And while most are set in her signature territory around Lake Huron, some strike even closer to home: an astonishing suite of four autobiographical talks offers an unprecedented glimpse into Munro's own childhood."

13. Slow Curve on the Coquihalla by R.E. Donald. I was surprised and quite honoured when R.E. Donald, the author of the Hunter Rayne Highway mysteries, contacted me on Goodreads to see if I was interested in receiving the first book in this series and possibly adding my thoughts about it when I read it. No pressure.. :). I received this copy a couple of weeks ago and look forward to checking it out in November. I'm especially intrigued by it because it's set in the province in which I currently reside, as are the other books in the series. This first book was published in 2011.

"When a well-respected truck driver is found dead in his truck down a steep embankment along the mountainous Coquihalla highway, his distraught daughter wants to know how and why her father's rig left the road on an easy uphill curve. Fellow truck driver Hunter Rayne, a former homicide detective with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the father of two girls, is compelled to help her find answers.
As he uncovers signs of illegal smuggling, Hunter recruits an old friend, an outlaw biker, to go undercover, but while Hunter follows up clues and waits for critical information from his old friend, the wily biker starts to play his own angles.
Slow Curve on the Coquihalla is the first in a mystery series featuring 'semi-' professional sleuth, Hunter Rayne. After over twenty years in the RCMP, Hunter resigned from the force and took to the road as a long haul trucker. his ex-wife is convinced he is running away. Hunter himself doesn't know why, he only knows he has to keep following the white lines."

14. Minus Time by Catherine Bush. I read Catherine Bush's Rules of Engagement this past year as part of my Reading Group Challenge, a focus on Canadian authors. When I went to Purpora's Books this past week to pick up Rousseau's Garden, I took a wander around Charles Purpora's library and found her debut novel, Minus Time, originally published in 1993. It was in perfect condition and since the book has been on my TBR list, I bought it as well.

"In this stunning debut novel, Catherine Bush confronts - with surreal lyricism and edgy, deadpan wit - the plight of the Nineties' "twenty-something" generation coming to grips with an era of dysfunctional nuclear families and the growing threat of environmental apocalypse.
Helen's world is the ultimate survival test, where toxic-food scares, contaminated water, sweeping chemical fires, and monumental earthquakes have become indistinguishable from the collapse of personal relationships and the distance within families. What can you do when your astronaut mother orbits the earth, your father finds saving people from earthquakes more important than keeping a family together, and the media persist in manipulating  your private life?

15. Mandarin Gate by Eliot Pattison. This is the 7th book in the Inspector Shan mystery series, published in 2012.

"Released unofficially from the work camp to which he'd been sentenced, former inspector Shan Tao Yun has been living in the remote mountains of Tibet with a group of outlawed Buddhist monks. He has just begun to settle into his menial job as an inspector of irrigation and sewer ditches in a remote Tibetan township when he encounters a wrenching crime scene.
Strewn across the grounds of an old Buddhist temple undergoing restoration are the bodies of two unidentified men and a Tibetan nun. Shan quickly realises that the murders pose a riddle the Chinese police might in fact be trying to cover up. To find justice for the victims and to protect an American woman who witnessed the murders, Shan must navigate through the treacherous worlds of the internment camp, the local criminal gang, and the government's rabid pacification teams, while coping with his growing doubts about his own identity and role in Tibet."

So there you go, my October purchases. I hope some might interest you enough to give them a try. Have a great November.

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