Thursday, February 15, 2018

On the Road Again ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽต

What I’m Reading.
From Jim

I just returned from a week in Texas, where I spent time with great friends (and Mark Pryor, too), met a couple of new booksellers, and signed some books. And I drove. I drove a lot. Texas is as big as...well, as big as Texas. Knowing I was going to be on the road for several days, I decided to download some audiobooks to fill the time. And my week turned out to be very productive reading-wise. I managed to listen to five books in five days.

First up was William Kent Krueger’s latest, Sulphur Springs. Cork O’Connor and his new wife, Rainy, head for Arizona in search of her grown son, who left a frightening message on her voicemail. Scary dudes, drug and human trafficking, and nobody to trust. This is the seventeenth installment in Kent’s wildly popular, deeply spiritual, New York Times bestselling series. Great stuff! And a finalist for Best Mystery at this year’s Left Coast Crime along with our own Terry Shames’s An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock.

I shifted gears (and nearly hit a truck on Interstate 35 between Austin and Houston), and let myself be transported to Thailand in the capable hands of Tim Hallinan. Fools’ River is the eighth Poke Rafferty novel. Expats are turning up dead in the filthy canals of Bangkok after their bank accounts have been drained and their credit cards maxed out. Oh, and for some unknown reason, all of the victims have their legs in casts... Brilliant work from a wonderfully versatile and talented writer. Also, be sure to check out Hallinan’s Junior Bender series if you’re partial to humor in your crime novels.

All Shall Be Well, the second of Deborah Crombie’s seventeen!!! Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels, proves that this beloved series was topnotch from the very start. If you enjoy Scotland Yard murder investigations and prose so smooth and persuasive that you’re instantly seduced into a forget-to-come-up-for-air reading experience, please read Deborah Crombie. Charming, authentic, and addictive, these books are my first choice for a new BBC TV series. I am a HUGE fan.

For some reason, I had never gotten around to reading Laura Lippman’s first Tess Monaghan mystery, Baltimore Blues. I’m glad I did. Lippmann is a giant of our genre, of course, and I can see the beginnings of her long and distinguished journey. Filled with wit and self-deprecation, Baltimore Blues is a paean to her hometown, even if it was a little down on its luck when this book was originally published. I’ve got a major crush on Tess. Great read!

Finally, I queued up Elizabeth Little’s Dear Daughter, and was rewarded with a novel that not only told a rich story with maddening characters and a compelling mystery, but also some of the finest wordsmithing and linguistic vertuosity that I’ve seen in a long while. (Or at least since reading Hallinan’s Fools’ River two days earlier!) Liz Little toys with words the way a cat might with her prey before delivering the coup de grรขce. But there are no mice entrails left behind here. Just a brutally funny, creative, and unexpected narrative about a different kind of heroine.

And now, as I have some deadlines looming and a new Ellie Stone mystery to write, I may not get to read/listen to as many books as I’d like in the coming months. Until the next road trip, that is.


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Jim. Tim Hallinan's Fools’ River sounds good. I'll check it out.

Susan C Shea said...

Tasty choices, Jim. I've read most of them and agree it's a stellar collection. I'm a particular fan of Tim Hallinan's - both series - and every one is a treat. And, of course, Deb Crombie, who never disappoints.