Back from the travel/study programme in London. A good three weeks; saw a lot that was new for me. The place we were staying had a considerable collection of books, and I pored over the case marked “secular,” where I found a new (to me) writer, Stephen Booth; revisited Len Deighton, an old favourite; and finally made the acquaintance of Alexander McCall Smith. Add Patricia Cornwall as airport reading and a trip to Chapters last week and the binge continues:
- Stephen Booth, Dancing with the Virgins (2001), Blind to the Bones (2003), Dying to Sin (2006): original main characters; atmospheric; wider issues skillfully folded in (did you know that the Peak district, site of so many fictional murders, is in fact disappearing because of acid rain?); marred by the occasional forced metaphor but still highly readable. Farm kitchen-sink UK crime fiction. Recommended.
- P.D. James, The Murder Room (2004): haven’t read her for awhile, except for the anomalous Children of Men, but remembered her novels for their bleakness. Here, though, she is channeling Dorothy Sayers, which would have been all very well in the 30’s but palls considerably now. The characters are ridiculously coy about sex, and James even has Dalglieish mention Captain Wentworth when he proposes; James really doesn’t give her readers much credit. Pretty bleak, at that, though it did link in to the course.
- Alexander McCall Smith, 44 Scotland Street (2004): laugh-out loud funny but a little coy at times. Reminded me of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City in concept, and in its idea of community.
- Len Deighton, Yesterday’s Spy (1975): not as complex as the Sampson trilogies, but the expected good read. Great cover; crumpling yellow pages: the complete nostalgic experience.
- Patricia Cornwall, Book of the Dead (2007): I know, I know. But the weird triple doppelgängering of Kay Scarpetta/Dr. Self/Cornwall herself is interesting in that it implies a certain self-reflection, previously lacking.
- Martin Millar, Lonely Werewolf Girl (2007): This. Book. Is. So. Good. Funny funny funny. Great gory battles. Emo teenagers. High fashion. Werewolves playing bagpipes. Just read it.
- Vernor Vinge, Rainbow’s End (2006): just began it but how can you not like a novel about a person recovering from Alzheimers’ and dedicated “To the Net-based cognitive tools that are changing our lives — Wikipedia, Google, and the others of their kind, now and in the future”? And, it’s fully available online.