Hamish Macbeth series from M.C. Beaton (2012 publication) finds Hamish still up to his usual tricks of solving the crimes while trying to stay under the radar--his goal being to avoid promotion, which might result in having to leave his cozy little town of Lochdubh. The murders seem to be a bit more bizarre (an elevator chair shot through the ceiling of an old hunting lodge) and grisly (someone's head cut off with a chain saw) than usual, but there are the more typical dirty tricks by Hamish's nemesis Blair, like hiding key pieces of evidence, and all the colorful characters we have come to know like the Currie sisters, Elspeth, and Angus Macdonald. The trouble seems to start when the town of Braikie hires an ambitious tourist director to promote a scenic plot of land called Buchan's Wood, which she promptly renames "Fairy Glen", and the tourists begin to flood in. But somebody apparently doesn't like this turn of events and hangs the iconic kingfisher bird whose image had adorned the promotional brochure, and then sabotages a bridge in the glen, causing several tourists to be injured. Hamish is torn between his attraction to the attractive tourist director, Mary, and his suspicion that she might be involved. And then there are the two strange grandchildren of the first murder victim, Charles and Olivia Palfour, who admit they wanted the old woman dead, but don't seem to have had the skills to pull off the murder. I think these books are better listened to than read because the usual reader, Graeme Malcolm, does a wonderful job with the pronunciation of local names and dialect, conveying the flavor of the place with even greater flair. These really are the perfect audiobooks for a car trip--entertaining but not so engrossing that you can't pay attention to where you're going--and we have listened to a lot of them over the years (e.g. Death of a Maid).
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
This first novel by Ian Banks got so many rave reviews that I put myself on the wait list at the library to get it, instead of just putting it on a list of books I would read later. BUT after 60+ pages, I am not going to finish it, even though it has been touted as "one of the top 100 novels of the century" by The Independent (result of a British poll) and "Brilliant...irresistible...compelling" by the New York Times. It is clear early on that this is a first person narrative by a pretty disturbed person and once he/she described using a home-made flame thrower to set a bunch of wild rabbits on fire, I was pretty much done. Although my curiosity was piqued about why someone turned out this way, it just wasn't worth it to me to spend the time in this twisted world. I also don't like to read/watch things like "Dexter" which is hugely popular, or "The Wire" but that's just me. The world is full of misery. Guess I have enough demons of my own that I don't need to seek out and become acquainted with anyone else's. Mr. Banks has written numerous other books, about half in the science fiction genre, perhaps they are not all so macabre. Moreover, I am a subscriber to Nancy Pearl's "Rule of 50" which frees me of having to finish books I don't like after 50 pages (minus one page for each year my age exceeds 50). Too many books, too little time.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness was equally compelling if somewhat slower moving at times. Again, I could hardly bear to put the book down at night and was constantly trying to steal a few minutes whenever I could to read a few pages while waiting for appointments or in between tasks at home. This richness of detail obviously delights this history professor author and she describes the food, the clothing, the architecture, the bad dental hygiene and more of 16th century Europe so vividly that you can almost imagine yourself there. Diana has timewalked herself and Matthew back to 1590's England in search of the elusive manuscript, Ashmole 782, that they think might hold the secrets of the origins of current day creatures--vampires, witches, and daemons. They are also hoping to find witches who can school Diana in her newly unbound powers which contemporary witches seem to find threatening; Diana soon finds out why. She is one of a very rare breed of "weavers," witches who can create spells by weaving them from the threads of the world, not just being limited to following the spells already created. For centuries weavers have been revered, but also feared, and were eventually hounded nearly out of existence. Her father was one. In this book, both Diana and Matthew have the opportunity to reunite with their now dead fathers. Danger comes not just other creatures but from treacherous friends, relatives and political powers as Diana tries to shift from being a historian to being a participant in history. I can hardly wait for the 3rd installment in this trilogy.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Elvis Cole" installment by Robert Crais is set in the bayous of Louisiana. Normally I like to read a series in order, but I picked up a few paper backs to take to New Zealand and got hooked again on Robert Crais, so am kind of reading whatever I have on hand (see earlier reviews of Free Fall and The Last Detective). This one goes back to the time when Elvis met Lucy, then an attorney in Baton Rouge. Elvis is supposed to be tracking down the birth parents of a TV star, who it turns out, is being blackmailed about her parentage. Said star doesn't tell Elvis that and he finds out the hard way by running head on into the blackmailer and some even worse bad guys who eventually kill the blackmailer; they are also running illegal immigrants into the country. There are some pretty colorful characters here, including a centenarian snapping turtle named Luther who can bite a 2 X 4 (that's a board) into splinters and you just know he's going to be bad news. Pike comes out from LA to make sure Elvis comes out the other end of a high risk double cross designed to round up the coyotes at the top of the food chain and get the blackmail victims off the hook. Lucy crowns Elvis with the moniker "Studly DoRight" in this book, and we meet her son Ben, so a lot of the material for subsequent books gets its genesis here...good one to read if you want to dive into these--and they are well worth reading. As I said in earlier reviews, there is a lot of actual detecting that goes on in this series.
Friday, April 12, 2013
this series of books. And of course Anna is a strong resourceful woman, maybe most of all when she's having a tough time. You can read Maureen Corrigan's more detailed plot summary and evaluations of Anna's character here.