Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Carnival of Books

As an extension of the Carnival I'd like to share the links to some great things I'm reading. Right now I have a book in my reading chair, one at my bedside, and one in the dining room. As the mood takes me I am reading three different stories in a delightful variety of settings.

First, there is Pat Browning's re-release of her California cozy Absinthe of Malice. I'm only on page 35, but it has the wonderful tone of evil-beneath-the-surface in a small former gold-mining town. Penny Mackenzie works for the small town paper, and must investigate the death of her friend and fellow reporter. Things are not what they seem in the little town of Pearl, and that's just the way I like it. :)

I'm also reading Marcus Sakey's Good People. It's a compelling read, reminiscent of A Simple Plan, in that two "good people" unexpectedly find a huge amount of cash and are faced with a moral dilemma and some very bad guys who would like to reclaim that money. As usual, Sakey's writing is compelling and hard to set down.

I have to mention something interesting that I found on page 80 of this mystery. Two characters are reminiscing about their first sexual conquests. One of them says "I remember the first time perfectly. Julia Buckley. I was fifteen, she was fourteen, in her parents' basement. They had this orange shag rug . . . "

Huh. A coincidence? Or an homage to my fortyish beauty? :)

Also enjoyable and fascinating in its historical depth is Murder at Deviation Junction by Andrew Martin. The story revolves around railway detective Jim Stringer. As the publicity material puts it, "It is winter 1909, and Jim desperately needs his anticipated New Year’s promotion in order to pay for a nurse for his ailing son. Jumping at any opportunity to impress his supervisor, Jim agrees to investigate a standard assault in a nearby town. But when his train home hits a snowdrift and a body is discovered buried in the snow, Jim finds himself tracking another dangerous killer."

What I like about this tale, aside from its British-ness and its unique tone, is the notion that I have been carried back to 1909, and that the thoughts of this narrator seem authentically like those a person could have had as he contemplated the vast progress that steam locomotives brought to the world. There are some amazing descriptions of trains and the labrynthine underground metalworks where men toiled to make them run.

And, of course, it's just a plain good old detective story.

I may add even more to this carnival of mystery fun . . . but right now I have to grade finals.


Anonymous said...

Thankyouthankyouthankyou for including ABSINTHE OF MALICE in your Carnival of Books. I'm honored!
Pat Browning

Julia Buckley said...

You're welcome, Pat! I am really enjoying the book. And I've already adopted a new word: "bolonius."