even if a rational, level-headed bookworm would have left a book called The Dead House, which takes place in Wales in October, for Halloween reading...I don’t care. this book starts my “Summer Reading Jamboree”, and phooey on anyone who calls this loony. if I had left this book alone for another five months...I would not be in love with it now. which I am. specifically, DS Fiona Griffiths is the best female crime-solver I’ve encountered since Malin Fors, which is saying something! her thing for corpses is freaking me out a little, but I’ve barely got to know her, and I’m sure I won’t be at all bothered by it, in a few more chapters. yeah right.
perfect, so far. an unlikely Summer Reading Jamboree launch choice...but perfect.
so here’s how things are going to go:
yesterday, on a whim—well, cuz everyone else was doin’ it and I felt left out—I made a Summer Reading List. it was originally 20 books, but I topped it up to 30 choices, so there would be more Spy books (which is another trend around here these days). and, as of now, I’m going to commence reading from that List (so sorry to any books I own that didn’t get included with the 30–I guess you just aren’t “summer-y” enough).
first up...a trip to the Welsh countryside, via a very well-reviewed Mystery novel by an author I’m thrilled to finally get to. Happy Summer-List Reading—and any reading—friends!
a neat twist in the plot...and then pure suspense as Alexsi is caught out in the Berlin streets at night during a British air raid.
this has been an entertaining read, but a bit too fragmented to get my true love; the supposed “main plot-line” suggested on the back cover hasn’t really started unfolding until now. again, hard to say just how I will rate it, but there are better Spy books. not bad, not great, this one.
the story is exciting and tense, but to love this book, I’m going to have to go easy on a very simple, unadorned style with no interesting trimmings. it reads kind of like a Warren Murphy novel, or any of those “Men’s Adventure” novels, like in the Executioner, or Death Merchant series. the book also reminds me of Pursuit, by Robert L. Fish—style and plot-wise—except where that was an infiltrating Nazi in disguise, this is a Russian spy in disguise, infiltrating Nazi Germany. Berlin in 1940, for the last several chapters.
hard to say how this book will ultimately rate with me. need to get further.
1936: Alexsi has been inserted close to Aida based on their history, so that he can betray her and her anti-Stalin friends at the state university.
Alexi, a clever and resourceful sixteen year old—surviving by his wits alone, and not afraid of violence...but ultimately captured. no doubt the NKVD will make him into a great spy, against the Nazis...
I have to get in on this Spy mania suddenly erupting around here. Spy fiction is my beloved genre, after all.
okay, well, it’s no classic, but I’m enjoying it enough that I’m going to try and finish the whole thing tonight (partly because I want to get to a Spy novel, now that there is some kind of Spy novel mania hitting BookLikes in my neck of the woods!).
one cool thing: this series entry has an atypical story structure compared to the other Mordecai Tremaine Mysteries I read (three); this one is divided into three Sections: Query: At the Time of the Corpse; Background: Before the Corpse; and Exposition: Following the Corpse. I‘m into the middle section now, and it seems that Mordecai had interacted with the dead man and his wife, plus their social circle (soon to be suspects), at various functions, and even by chance (meeting on the street, etc.). I don’t remember anything like this in the other Francis Duncan books I got to earlier, and it’s an interesting feature. of course, it was obvious in the first section that there was a messy backstory attached to Adrian and Helen Carthallow, and that our amateur detective was somehow snarled up in it...and now I’m getting the unsettling play-by-play.
also, Helen seems to lie a lot...
this book has the potential to become my favorite amongst Mysteries by this author, if it can stay strong. I do like it a lot, as of page 74. first of four I bought by this author, many moons ago, and seems like a good one to leave for last (well, “last”, for the time being).
So Pretty A Problem, by Francis Duncan (copyright 1950; quote is from page 2 of the Vintage/Penguin Random House trade paperback edition, 2016).
The Panda Theory, by Pascal Garnier, translated by Gallic Books (copyright 2008, English translation copyright 2012; quote is from page 67 of the Gallic Books trade paperback edition).
I’ve only done the first chapter, but events depicted have got me completely hooked. this is the last Francis Duncan novel I had left in my Unread piles, and I have no plans to acquire his Christmas-oriented Mystery, so let’s see if he can do something impressive here. In at the Death is my favorite so far.
Gabriel is weird. besides that...I’ve passed the chapter in which he won the stuffed panda, but then I got a bit depressed and ticked off at Gabriel when he just left it in the trash. luckily, it got rescued, and ended up where, earlier, Gabriel went for dinner where there was no dinner but did have dinner anyway.
I get the comparisons to Simenon already, but I’m also flashing back to a short, darkly humorous French novel I read years ago called The Suicide Shop. enjoyable and odd.
after how things went with Bussi and Lemaitre (especially Bussi!)...of course I’m ready to meet another French Crime novelist.
I’m fully under its spell. the magic, I think, comes from all the intriguing characters...some of them detestable, some of them noble, some just scared. Josh Brolin should definitely play Sheriff Ross!