Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Can I ever catch up?

Trying to get back to book-blogging. First stop, recognizing that I have a Draft post that I never managed to press "publish" on. So here's a start on 2014, except that it's still teetering on 2013 as well. . . I'll try to get my balance and move on soon -- at the very list, I can post a list of books read in 2014 so far. Shall I promise to do that by next week?

First of all, just to glance quickly back at my 2013 reading list, I must recommend Laurie King's Bones of Paris to any of you who love both Paris and the mystery genre. This is a very satisfying and atmospheric novel, set in the Paris of Hemingway, Kiki de Montparnasse, and Man Ray, among others. It features a detective, Harrison Stuyvessant, who has apparently made other fictional outings which I will definitely now track down.

I can't help feeling wistful when I think back to that lull during the post-Christmas week when I was able to gobble down a few mysteries. One of those I gorged happily on was Elizabeth George's latest, a delightfully fat and juicy novel, the kind that are perfect for deep winter, the armchair, fireside, etc. Just One Evil Act saw poor Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers get herself in the most trouble ever, compounding her sartorial sins by cutting corners, lying, making deals with questionable journalists, all to defend her beloved neighbour, the 9-year-old Haddiyah and Haddiyah's father, Azarh (who Havers won't admit that she loves as well).  Twist after twist keeps this plot moving, although some might complain that there are one or two complications too many. I can't add to that chorus, given how pleased I was to travel with Azarh and Havers to Italy, particularly since we'll be visiting that country for the first time this summer. I was also pleased to meet an Italian detective who strikes up a surprising partnership with Linley and Havers and appears to see past the latter's rough surface . . . enough so that I have hopes George might bring the two together in future titles.

I've read some wonderful books in the first third of the year -- Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs, Adrianne Harun's A Man Came out of a Door in the Mountain, and Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch are the standouts so far. More to tell you soon. Stay tuned . . .


  1. Ah, a juicy read indeed, but I was a bit dismayed at George's depiction of poor Barbara's mid-life crisis in this book; she came off looking quite dotty compared to her two male colleagues. I've always admired George's decision to keep her characters developing and changing instead of stagnating into stereotypes, but where was the pragmatic Barbara that I had grown to love in the earlier books?

  2. I can see what you mean, Marilyn, but I didn't see Barbara's actions as so much a mid-life crisis as the result of her having become so very isolated, socially. She had invested so much in her friendship with Taymullah and with his daughter Haddiyah that it made sense to me that she would act so desperately, if perhaps foolishly, to help him. And I loved seeing her in Italy and seeing her through the (very favourable) eyes of the Italian Chief Inspector. I'm really curious to see where the series will go next, whether it will develop this new locale and its new character.

  3. Oh, I'm so happy to see this post even though I've read none of these books. "Just One Evil Act" and the Goldfinch are already on my list though, and come to think of it, a little Elizabeth George sounds like perfect recuperation reading.

  4. Oh, sink into these two, Mardel. Goldfinch is rather harrowing, at parts, but so seductive in others. Quite brilliant, I think. And you know you wanna read the latest George! ;-)