Saturday, July 10, 2010

June Book Report

Here's what I read in June:

The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly, is the first in a series of mysteries set in colonial India. The detective is Joe Sandilands, a WWI veteran who now works for Scotland Yard. Sandilands has been asked to look into a series of deaths that look like accidents, but may actually be a series of murders. I liked the unusual (for mysteries) setting of 1920s India, and the characters were interesting. In fact, I liked this one so much I went on to read the second book in the series, Ragtime in Simla. In this book, Sandilands is travelling north to Simla, a northern provincial city, in order to vacation at a friend's guesthouse. While riding to Simla, the man sitting next to him is shot by a sniper. Sandilands is asked to figure out why. Another good mystery which takes advantage of the exotic setting.

Babel by Barry Maitland is another in the Kolla/Brock series of mysteries. This one, I thought, was weaker than some of the earlier ones in the series. As the book begins, Kathy Kolla is still shaky and suffering PTSD from being held captive at the end of the previous book. She's debating whether to pack it all in and start a new career, when Brock is called in to investigate the very public murder of a controversial professor at a London university. The story, which was written before 9/11, features a look at Islamofascism, but unfortunately, the plot just didn't resonate as well in a post-9/11 world.

Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin by Hampton Sides. A fascinating look at the assassination of MLK Jr and the search for his assassin, James Earl Ray. The book very tightly focuses on the period immediately before the assassination, beginning with Ray's escape from the Missouri penitentiary in which he was serving time, tracking him to Memphis, describing the murder in detail, then following the path he took attempting to avoid capture. Sides doesn't really seem to spend much time on any of the conspiracy theories that abound regarding King's death, but the depth of his research into this time period gives plenty of compelling reasons to reject them.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson. I think it was the weakest of the three, but I still enjoyed it and liked finding resolution of sorts to the series. There was a bit more about Swedish political history in here (maybe could have used an edit) but you'll find out what happens to all your favorites characters (and un-favorites) from the first two books. How sad that the author died at an incredibly young age and won't be around to write more.

So that's my June summary. You know the drill: feel free to leave comments telling me what you're reading or what you thought of any of the above. . .


Anmiryam said...

I have a couple of promising ones for you. I read a quick piece of film history: Fifth Avenue at 5 A.M. about the making of Breakfast at Tiffany's which is lovely though not very demanding. Now I'm reading "The Cookbook Collector" by Allegra Goodman. I'm 50 pages in and enjoying it immensely. It's light and funny, but I think it's got more insight than a lot of easily consumed reads.

Betty said...

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. The title alone should get you. It's a charming mystery with Flavia deLuce, an 11-year old chemist.

Anonymous said...

Re Stieg Larsson's books having "a bit more about Swedish politics and history" and needing an edit for the American edition -- just what I said after reading the first. It's like an American writer choosing to deal with California's nutty politics as background. Would an Argentinian or Swedish reader be apt to know who "Governor Moonbeam" is/was, and what that reference meant as a comparison or establisher of atmosphere?

--Lynda in Oregon