I hit my reading average again in May. I would be reading more, but I am stuck on a book I’m really not enjoying. Not because the book is particularly bad, it is just not what I want to read right now. Unfortunately, I am constitutionally incapable of not finishing a book I’ve started. So instead of reading, I do something else, like play DS or watch basketball. Still, I guarantee that I’ll have that book finished by the end of June and hopefully a higher total number of books read. This month is almost all mysteries.
The Magician’s Nephew
I really wish I had read the Narnia books when I was younger. The two I’ve read so far have been excellent children’s books, but definitely children’s books. They are good, but definitely for a young audience. Still, CS Lewis is a great writer and he writes kids really well. His child characters actually feel like children, changing rapidly from the most selfish little assholes to kind and generous sweethearts. Of course, the children don’t appear quite as simply foolish as many of the adult characters here. The magician is a complete fool, and even the Witch is both dangerous and ridiculous.
This is a slightly more involved tale that The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe. That one is fairly simple. They children go to Narnia, then save Narnia. Here, you have Polly and Digory going back and forth, visiting several different worlds, accidentally bringing people back with them, and the creation of Narnia. But the book is no longer than the next one (since I read them out of order) just a little more scattered. Still, there is something clearly building in Lewis’ melding of mythologies.
A Bitter Truth
This is the first (I think) in a series of mysteries about Bess Crawford, a WW1 Nurse. She returns to England on leave only to find a battered woman freezing on her doorstep, so she takes her in. Helping Lydia, the woman on the doorstep, leads to Bess getting involved in a murder and a mystery about a missing child. It is not great, but it is largely enjoyable. Lydia’s family is haunted by past and current traumas and their suspicious behavior is actually justified by the situation. At least, it is if you accept the pall cast over this family by a death that happened more than 30 years before.
Bess is an interesting enough character, but her role in this book is odd. She plays the role of the traditional detective, investigating the mystery but revealing little about herself. But when it comes to the actual crime, she doesn’t do much. She is mostly an observer. Now, with the plot thread about the missing child she is the big mover, but she has little to do with checking murder. Still, it was a fun read overall.
A Murder is Announced
Another Miss Marple mystery. I am starting to get a better feel for how Marple’s stories work. She doesn’t really do most of the investigating, she simply solves. Other people do the legwork. Miss Marple does more investigating in this book than she did in the previous books. She actually gets involved rather than just showing up to name the murderer.
This is a rather fun story. Several neighbors of Letitia Blacklock all get letters saying there is going to be a murder that night. There was a party planned, and everyone assumes it is part of a party game. When someone actually dies during a quickly deduced fake break in, everyone’s secrets start to come to light. The eventual solution is a little farfetched, but in a fun way. It is not something that anyone would guess, but doesn’t really break the rules.
I picked up two of these Dalgliesh books when they were cheap on Amazon, and now I’ve read them both. They are very good mysteries, with very strong suspect characters and crimes, but I don’t care at all about the protagonist. Maybe I need to read more of these or read them in order, but he’s left no impression on me after two books. He’s just kind of there to move the plot along.
Here, a man washes up in his boat with both of his hands severed. Suspicion then falls on the inhabitants, most of them writers, of the small community where the deceased man lived. Dalgliesh happened to be visiting his Aunt, a resident of said community, at the time and assists in solving the murder. Neither of James’ books really lit me on fire. There is nothing particularly wrong with this book, but it simply didn’t grab my interest.