Reading Log: March 2020

Books acquired: “Trying to Get Lost: Essays on Travel and Place,” Joan Frank; “Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019,” Carmen Maria Machado, guest editor; “American Dirt,” Jeanine Cummins (a gift, I hasten to add)

Books read: “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol. 1, 1929-1964,” Robert Silverberg, editor; “The Fourth Galaxy Reader,” H.L. Gold, editor; “Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019,” Carmen Maria Machado, guest editor

Welcome, readers! Here we are for the ol’ Reading Log during a completely typical time, so let’s get right to it and —

OK, let’s stop there. First, apologies for the delay in getting this post written and published. I ran out of time to do it the weekend of April 5-6, and didn’t have a chance to get started on it until late in the afternoon Wednesday. But better late than never, i.e. Restaurant of the Week, right?

Needless to say these are strange and uncertain times. We’ll be proud one day to say we lived through them — presuming we do live through them. Be vigilant. But also be aware. Pay attention. We’ve never gone through anything like this, and we must remember what it was like, and savor the moments so that we can remember them, and tell people about them one day.

As bookish sorts, we are perfectly poised for a period that calls for us to stay indoors and occupy ourselves. We have, in fact, trained our whole lives for this. Let us not fail ourselves in this dark hour.

The back half of March was when stay-at-home orders started to take effect, and that may have affected all our reading for the better. We’ll learn in the comments section.

Personally, since I’m still on the job, I haven’t had much more free time than usual. It’s weirdly disappointing. And while I may have read a bit more overall, I wasn’t toting a book with me to lunch, since I wasn’t going to lunch, since restaurants were closed. I did take a book if I ordered takeout and had to wait, but it was hard to get in more than a page or two before my order was ready, darn the luck. And forget about getting a hot drink and sitting outside: It’s been cold and raining much of the past month.

Ah, me. Anyway, onward to March’s books. I had a science fiction short-story thing going on, with three anthologies of stories by various writers. (I used my SF bookcase for the photo up top, where my books felt right at home.)

“SF Hall of Fame”: I had been reading this off and on since October, and in fact that’s one pitfall of doing these monthly posts. Faced with 650 pages of short stories, I’m not going to be able to read it straight through in a month, and rather than leave a post blank some month, I nibbled away at this book a week or two at the end of some months until I was far enough along that the first half of March could be spent finishing it.

As the name suggests, it’s a collection of great stories from the classic era, chosen by leading SF writers of the 1960s who knew the field and its history. I like science fiction, as must be obvious by now from past Reading Logs, but I’m not well-read in the field, and thus almost all these stories were new to me. Nearly all of them made an impression. A consistently good to great anthology. The two subsequent volumes collect novellas from the same period.

“Fourth Galaxy Reader”: This 1960 anthology gathers stories from Galaxy magazine. They’re all decent or better, with stories by some well-remembered writers (Avram Davidson, Frederick Pohl, Fritz Leiber) and some who are largely forgotten (Stephen Barr, J.T. McIntosh, Margaret St. Claire). Largely fun, breezy stories.

“Best American SF 2019”: I’d seen this last fall and was intrigued, but I held off buying it while I had that “Hall of Fame” book unread. It seemed only fair. Having finished it, though, I rushed out to pick this up, curious what modern SF looks and reads like. I hadn’t really read any 21st century SF.

I was impressed by the range of voices, tones and themes, and by how many stories were written by women or marginalized people (or both). Fair warning, these stories are on the literary side, with nary a rocket ship in sight. Fittingly, some contributors seem to be living in the future themselves: In their bios, two use they/their pronouns, and one says of herself: “Ada is bisexual, genderfluid, polyamorous and mentally ill.”

I bought “Hall of Fame” at Borders Montclair in 2008, full of promise, then put it on the shelf, where it made me feel guilty for the next 11 years. “Galaxy” was a gift from reader Rich Pietrasz, who had gotten it from reader Doug Evans. Rich passed it along to me in 2015 and I can finally say I’ve read it. Thanks, Rich. And “Best American” was bought at the Barnes & Noble in Rancho Cucamonga on March 16, a few days before retail stores were ordered closed. Whew! I really wanted to have this in my “books acquired” and “books read” lists the same month. That’s happened only a handful of times.

What did you all read in March? Are you finding more time to read, the same or less? And do you have any reading goals for the pandemic? I wish I could say I was going to tackle “Middlemarch” or something, but that’s not how April is looking. On the other hand, I have finished a book already and am in the midst of two others…

Next month: an emotional rollercoaster (and how appropriate is that, right?).

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  • DebB

    I read three last month, all by Mary Stewart. They were all pretty good, but only one was really a page-turner.

    Titles: The Ivy Tree, Thornyhold, and Stormy Petrel, whose publisher’s description called it “The gripping classic that will keep you on the edge of your seat.” Well, I was comfortably in my seat on the sofa.

    All Stewart’s books seem to center around young independent woman with little to no family who have exciting adventures and end up finding romance. I’m not really a romance reader, but I have enjoyed her stories.

    In The Ivy Tree, a young woman who had been presumed dead returns home after many years but pretends not to be herself (i.e. a look-alike). Her cousins pay her to pretend she IS herself in order to get an inheritance from her grandfather. Danger ensues when they discover she really IS herself. The Ivy Tree is the most suspenseful of the three I read this month.

    In Thornyhold a young woman inherits a cottage in the country from her godmother. When she moves in she learns that said godmother was looked upon as a white witch, and the locals expect her to be the same. She meets a handsome widower with adorable son, but some action comes along when another woman is jealous.

    Stormy Petrel takes place on an island in the north of England, where an Oxford don takes a vacation with her brother, renting a cottage on the shore. Two men show up in the middle of the night – is the handsome one good or not? is the quiet one hiding something? Will our heroine find out before it’s too late? Actually this one had the least romance of the three, but maybe the least suspense, too.

    • davidallen909

      That’s amusing that the title advertised to keep you on the edge of your seat was the least suspenseful. Well, the edge of one’s seat isn’t a very comfortable place to be, particularly in these trying times. Glad you stayed comfortable, Deb.

    • Terri Shafer

      Deb, as I think I have said before, I love Mary Stewart! I have not read any of these. The last one I read, a couple of years ago, was Nine Coaches Waiting. It was pretty good 🙂
      I think the one statement you made that encompasses all Mary Stewart novels is “Danger ensues”! 😉

  • Doug Evans

    Yay, the Reading Log!

    I read six last month!

    Actually, I read three last month, but came close to finishing three others. Since I completed the final three before this month’s Reading Log appeared, and since the calendar doesn’t mean anything anymore, I’m just going to go ahead and count them all as March books.

    “The Way Some People Die” by Ross Macdonald (1951). The third in the as-good-as-ever Lew Archer private eye series. In case it’s not clear, the way some people die is: violently.

    “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1: 1929-1964” ed. by Robert Silverberg. In a David Allen Reading Log first, David and I read (well, finished) the same book in the same month! To be fair, we each knew we were doing it, having talked about it before. To see what I thought about it, just read what David wrote above. A stellar (hah!) collection, chosen by people who knew what they were doing.

    “The Nick Adams Stories” by Ernest Hemingway (1972). I listened to this in audiobook form (Stacy Keach narrates!). This was a strong, sometimes contradictory collection of stories featuring Hemingway’s early alter ego Nick Adams; some stories better than others, some admittedly just rough sketches or even outtakes from other stories, all good.

    “Agency” by William Gibson (2020). Gibson, in a sequel to his time-shifting 2014 novel “The Peripheral,” posits an alternate reality in which Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election and Britain never Brexited. Also, there’s no pandemic. Sounds nice! As in the earlier novel, people from the future use technology to visit people from the past. Shenanigans ensue. Thoroughly enjoyable, though Gibson’s clipped writing style can be a little distancing. I couldn’t shake the feeling, though, that our current stay-at-home existence under the leadership of an orange reality TV star ignoramus is stranger than anything Gibson could ever have dreamed up.

    “For Small Creatures Such As We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World” by Sasha Sagan (2019). Sasha Sagan is the daughter of Carl Sagan and his wife and collaborator Ann Druyan, and I admit it was her last name that prompted me to pick up this book. Sasha Sagan, like her parents, is nonreligious; in this book she tries to find rituals that secular people can use to give meaning to the milestones of our lives. I mostly read this book for the autobiographical elements: it must be strange to have such a famous father and to lose him at such a young age (she was 14 when Carl Sagan died of an aggressive form of cancer). She handled those details, as well as her exploration of rituals, secular and otherwise, in an engaging manner that would make her father proud.

    “The 13 Crimes of Science Fiction” edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh (1979). A fun impulse purchase from Magic Door Used Books (how’s Magic Door doing in all of this?), based on the questionable premise that there are 13 kinds of crime stories, and the even more questionable shoe-horning of 13 science fiction stories into those categories. Whatever: it’s an excuse to publish an anthology of science fiction stories, and though not all the stories were great, I enjoyed the heck out of it.

    Hey, that’s my copy of The Fourth Galaxy Reader in David’s pictures above! Hello, old friend!

    Next month: the fourth Lew Archer book, the final Rabbit book (sorry, Rabbit, that I didn’t get to you last month!), and literally, as I typed this Log, I got a notice from the LA Public Library that my ebook copy of “American Dirt” (the book David mentions above that he received as a gift) on hold for me is available to download. I’m sympathetic to the complaints surrounding the creation of that book, but also don’t like being told what I shouldn’t read. If I can get to it before the hold expires, look for it in next month’s Log!

    Stay safe, stay healthy, stay dry, and happy reading, everyone!

    • Doug Evans

      As for my reading habits in our new Coronavirus lifestyle: it turns out I’m not reading all that much differently than before. I certainly would have predicted that being stuck at home under government orders would double or triple my reading time, but being stuck at home with my wife and daughter means that I’m often interacting with them instead of just sitting in a chair reading. And moving my three college classes online has at least doubled my workload, so time that I’m not spending commuting to work, for example, is time spent trying to figure out the technology to get my lectures to my students. I’ll be curious at the end of this first full month of stay-at-home to see what my book count is!

    • Terri Shafer

      I haven’t read any of yours this month, Doug, but several look pretty interesting! I love that Stacy Keach narrated the Hemingway stories — I bet that was good.
      And I’m jealous that you have chopped away at the Rabbit books! I am going to get into them again…sometime!
      I’m still trying to finish The Return of the King! Hopefully in May!
      Also, I wanted to let you know that I am about a quarter of the way through “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” and I am loving it! It is really an interesting concept!! Thanks for the rec — I’ll let you know in May what my final opinion is 🙂

      • Doug Evans

        True story: Stacy Keach ran against my dad for eighth grade class president at Van Nuys Junior High. Stacy Keach won. Also true story: my mom, who hadn’t met my dad yet but attended the same school, voted for Stacy Keach.

        You’re the first person I know who’s enjoyed “Evelyn Hardcastle,” but I’m glad you’re liking it! Although I didn’t think the execution quite came off, it was an interesting idea for a book, and I’m glad it’s got you hooked.

    • davidallen909

      Agreed, the Nick Adams Stories are mostly good standalone stories (plus some sketches and such to fill out a book), but Nick isn’t much of a character.

      It was fun finishing a book the same month as you!

      I groaned inwardly when a friend presented me with American Dirt for my birthday. Still, controversy aside, it’s got blurbs from some good writers, so I’ll try to keep an open mind at whatever point I get to it. But getting it did feel a bit like being handed a package of radioactive material.

      • Doug Evans

        I just finished American Dirt! Look for my comments in the next Reading Log! (They will basically be “I actually really enjoyed it but tried to be mindful of the critiques surrounding its publication” but I will parse that out a little more next month.)

        • davidallen909

          That’s a book we won’t be finishing the same month…but I will get to it later this year (I hope)! Looking forward to your parsing.

    • Hugh C. McBride

      I read one novel from the Rabbit series a few decades back (in the early 90s, if memory serves me correct), but I’m not sure which one. I’ve also read one or two Lew Archer books – but not THE WAY SOME PEOPLE DIE — as well as a couple of Nick Adams stories (but not the entire collection). Which is a circuitous way of saying I don’t think I’ve read anything from your list this month, but maybe I kinda have?

  • Terri Shafer

    David, I have not read any of yours this month. But I find that I like science fiction more that I thought I did. So I may have to look into some of those, and the authors you mentioned.
    Also, I love your Next Month teasers! Can’t wait to see what your “emotional rollercoaster” read is!

    Yes, I did read a lot this month, but I’m not sure it was a lot more than usual 😉
    There were several 4 star reads, but also two 1 star ratings! So I kind of ran the whole gamut this month!

    The Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers, 1951, 152 pages, 3***s
    Very interesting. These were short stories, of which I’m not a great fan anyway because short stories don’t tend to have endings – and these stories certainly didn’t! I had only read McCullers’ “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and “The Member at the Wedding,” which were fine. I wanted to give her another chance. Well, I did….

    Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, 1936, 115 pages, 4****s
    So good! With lots of twists that I didn’t see coming! I’m thinking of watching the old black and white movie of this story featuring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson, screenplay by Raymond Chandler. Should be amazing!

    Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, 1848, 437 pages, 4****s
    I liked it quite a bit! I’m a big Gaskell fan 🙂

    The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman, 2016, 290 pages, 4****s
    I originally read this in 2016, so I’m pretty sure I reported it on here (have I been on the blog for 4 years? Not sure!). But I re-read it for book club and enjoyed it again. It’s about two related families that live in the same house (upstairs/downstairs). One wants a boy and one wants a girl, and on a snowy night they both give birth and switch babies without telling anyone else in their families. The author starts the reader off with this info right at the beginning. Then the story commences with how this action/event affects the two families for the next 20 years. I really enjoyed it!

    The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, 1966, 152 pages, 1*
    Well, I guess I won’t be reading another book by Pynchon any time soon!!

    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, 2018, 384 pages, 4****s
    Lovely book with a nice little surprise twist at the end! I recommend it!

    The Body Double by Emily Beyda, 2020, 293 pages, 3.5***s (free book from publisher)
    Unusual. It gave me kind of a creepy feeling while reading it. And then the ending was very pretty strange…. Like I said “unusual.”

    So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell , 1979, 135 pages, 4****s
    Maxwell is an Illinois author whom I’ve never heard. But it turns out I like his writing quite a bit! He was raised in Lincoln, Illinois and went to the U of I, and since this book appears to be autobiographical, he is often referencing Bloomington, Peoria, Springfield, and Champaign. I kind of like that 🙂 Have you read him, David?

    A Map of Days (Mrs. Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, Book #4) by Ransom Riggs, 2018, 496 pages, 4****s
    I like this YA series about “Peculiar” (magical) children, and how they are being treated and sometimes abused. And, now, Jacob (also a ‘peculiar’) is trying to save them! When I read the first book I didn’t know it was going to be a series! But now I can’t stop – and Book #5 is available now! Gotta’ keep up!

    The Lover by Marguerite Duras, 1984, 117 pages, 1*
    Read with a Goodreads group, this book just didn’t do anything for me. It felt confusing. The timeline jumped around so I never knew if the events were happening in the past or present. The author didn’t use any names so I didn’t know if “he” meant one of her two brothers, her father, or her lover. She has a very particular style of writing, and that’s probably what made her popular. But it’s just a style that I don’t enjoy :/

    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, 2018, 325 pages, 3.5***s
    This one was different than I expected it to be (I have read all of his brother’s books, John Green, and thought I’d give him a try). It ended up being about aliens coming to earth! Wow, didn’t expect that! And I also didn’t expect that it was the first in a series! And since this first book had a cliff-hanger ending I guess I’ll try to get Book #2 which I think comes out in the fall. We’ll see….

    The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, 2019, 337 pages, 4****s
    Wonderful story of a house, a family, and how they all affect each others’ lives — the house has a pretty big effect!
    I wasn’t sure where the story was going at first, but it was so easy to read and so wonderfully written that I just kept wanting to read! This is a good one 🙂

    This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger, 2019, 450 pages, 4****s
    I really enjoyed this book of four young orphans who escape from the orphanage where they have been cruelly treated (early 1930’s). Their adventures as they travel down the Mississippi River are exciting, dangerous, fun, and endearing. And as they search for what they are looking for in life, the reader’s heart goes with them, hoping that they each find that which they seek. And in the end…. well, you’ll see 😉 Enjoy!!

    Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl, 2019, 266 pages, 4****s
    I loved this telling by Ruth Reichl of her time as editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine!
    It really made me hungry 🙂

    AND – Drum Roll Please!! ~~~~~
    A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, 1993, 1439 pages, 3***s
    Well…. I got through it and I can mark it off my list!!! (Started on January 1st and made myself finish by the end of March.) But really — it wasn’t very good. It just seemed like a soap opera set in India in the 1950’s, and lots of it wasn’t very interesting. Also, the author didn’t make me care about the characters or what happened to them. But I know some people love it! Not me….. :/

    So, on to my April reading — and I’ve started some I’m really enjoying!! Happy Reading & Wash Your Hands! 😉

    • davidallen909

      You finished, after three months! And you didn’t really care for it! (Also: Yet you still gave it 3 stars?) Well, you tried. But it’s too bad you read 1,400 pages and didn’t like it, while also cool that you read 1,400 pages.

      Yes, see Double Indemnity the movie! It’s been years since I’ve seen it so my memories are hazy, but I recall it being well done, and it’s got a great reputation. Barbara Stanwyck was in a lot of great movies. I only knew her from The Big Valley until I started watching ’30s and ’40s movies.

      Have you now read everything by Carson McCullers? You’ve read everything by her that I’ve ever heard of.

      Lot 49 is the most accessible Pynchon, reputedly, with the possible exception of Inherent Vice (which I haven’t read). I really liked Lot 49 — the idea of an underground postal service grabbed me — but have steered clear of his doorstop-sized books.

      The Two-Family House is an interesting premise. And no, I was unaware of William Maxwell.

      Glad you like my “next month” teasers! This one is about the titles I expect to read, not any particular book.

      • Terri Shafer

        I understand that people do enjoy writing like Pynchon’s in Lot 49 — I’m just not one of them! I think he is in that group of postmodern writers, such as Vonnegut, Heller, Calvino, etc., which is a genre that I cannot really understand, although I do appreciate it. It all just seems a little bit crazy to me. I think you either “like it” or “don’t like it” — I guess you know which category I fit into! 😉

    • Hugh C. McBride

      Yay, DOUBLE INDEMNITY (the novel) – and, to echo the esteemed Mr. Allen, yay, DOUBLE INDEMNITY (the film). In addition to the great Barbara Stanwyck, this cinema classic also features Fred MacMurray is an excellent role that is far from his My Three Sons or Shaggy Dog/Absent-Minded Professor persona.

    • Doug Evans

      I’ve read Double Indemnity and Where the Crawdads Sing, the latter of which I think you and I have talked about here on the blog. The film of Double Indemnity, co-written by Raymond Chandler, has a different ending than the book, and James M. Cain later said he wished he’d thought of the same ending for the book. (Fact recalled from memory and double-checked just now on Wikipedia!) The film is definitely worth seeing!

      And! I did my English honor’s thesis way back in 1992 on “The Crying of Lot 49”. Somewhere in the bowels of the University of Redlands library is a very turgidly written 40+ page thesis on the language Pynchon uses to tell his tale. That thesis turned me off of Pynchon, alas… I haven’t been able to finish any of his books since, but I think that’s because of a little PTSD in trying to get the thesis done, and not so much anything to do with Pynchon himself… and also convinced me that books should be read and enjoyed and not so much analyzed to pieces over the course of a year so as to suck all the joy out of the processs. (I’m sure you’re great, Pynchon! One day I’ll give you another try!)

  • Hugh C. McBride

    I read six books in March, which is good (for me) for a typical month, but somehow seems lacking in a month that felt like it lasted at least a year. That disclaimer aside, here’s my list:

    IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE (Adrian McKinty) – Book #3 in the Sean Duffy series finds our hero attempting to track down an escaped Irish Republican Army bomb expert while also solving a locked room murder that most everyone believes to be a suicide. He also briefly loses his job on the Royal Ulster Constabulary after being set up for a crime he didn’t commit, and may be being manipulated by M15. Oh, and that IRA bomber Duffy’s looking for? If he doesn’t find him in time, Margaret Thatcher’s life may be in jeopardy. The only thing I don’t like about this series is that there are only three more books in it (so far, at least).

    YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY (Steph Cha) – My expectations for this novel were extremely high (It’s Steph Cha! It’s historical LA crime fiction! Doug Evans praised it in a previous Reading Log!), which may have set me up for, if not disappointment, at least a slight letdown. I’ll file this one under “good, but not quite great.” I think I downgraded this one a bit because I feel like Nina Revoyr handled a similar topic (murders from the past & their impact on Asian-American & African-American families in LA) a bit better in SOUTHLAND, which I read last year. (Please forgive me, Doug!)

    GUN STREET GIRL (Adrian McKinty) – In book #4 in the Sean Duffy series, our hero is investigating international gun-running, three murders, and one suicide (which may actually be a fourth murder). And his friends in M15 are trying their best to convince him to leave Ireland and join them across the water. Again, my only complaint about this series is that there aren’t enough books in it. Though I’ve discovered that this series was originally conceived as a trilogy, so I should just be thankful that Adrian McKinty gave us the gift of three additional novels.

    THE LOST ONES (Sheena Kamal) – Nora Watts is contacted by a concerned father who wants her to find his missing teenager daughter. When Nora meets with the caller and his wife, she discovers the missing girl is the daughter she gave up for adoption 15 years ago. Nora Watts is an intriguing protagonist – a biracial woman who spent much of her childhood in & out of foster homes, and who survived a horrific trauma. I felt like the plot of this novel went off the rails a bit, but I’ll definitely read Book #2 in this series when it’s released.

    THE HAND ON THE WALL (Maureen Johnson) – This is a solid conclusion to the “Truly Devious” trilogy, which involves the efforts of teen sleuth Stevie Bell to solve both an 80-year-old mystery and a series of modern-day murders at Vermont’s elite Ellingham Academy. Johnson does an excellent job of tying up all the loose threads and bringing this series to a satisfying end.

    I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS (Charles Foresman) – My review of this graphic novel could easily be summed up by repeating its title. The premise was promising, but the narrative was disturbing (and not in a good way), and the end was beyond disappointing. To paraphrase noted literary critic Randy Jackson, this one gets a “no” from me, dawg.

    • davidallen909

      Yeah, I feel like I shoulda read more, or greater, too. But six books, dawg. You should be okay with that. And two from the same author and the same series. You wish Sean McGinty were writing faster; Sean McGinty must wish you were reading slower.

    • Terri Shafer

      Six is very respectable, Hugh! And looks like some good ones, too 🙂
      I have read a couple of Maureen Johnson’s (“The Little Blue Envelope” series). I’ll have to look into “Truly Devious.”

    • Doug Evans

      Great month, Hugh! I did say good things about “Your House Will Pay” back when I read it, but actually, “good but not great” is probably how I would describe it as well. The ending was a bit abrupt, and also it was a little crazy that character X didn’t know that character Y was the same woman famous for having done Z. (I did all of that in a non-spoilery fashion.) I wrote at the time that Cha had come into her own by not forcing herself into a mystery format as in her earlier three books, but now, after a couple of months reflection, I’d kind of like her to revisit her Juniper Song private eye character.

      • Hugh C. McBride

        Good to know this book won’t put a strain on our friendship, Doug! And to be honest, I’d forgotten about the abrupt ending until I read your comment. I totally agree with you about that – and I also agree with your hope that we haven’t seen the last of Juniper Song! (Also, that may well be the best non-spoiler description of a plot that I’ve ever read.)

  • Rinaldo Darke

    Hi, David
    I read seven books in March.

    TRIPLE JEOPARDY (Rex Stout) 5*****
    A classic 1950’s Nero Wolfe mystery novella trilogy. Rex Stout was at his best.

    A LONGER FALL (Charlaine Harris) 5*****
    This is the second in the post-apocalypse Gunnie Rose series.
    The Apocalypse in this case is the 1918 Spanish Flu. The USA has fallen apart. The Romanovs escaped from Russia and the revolution, and Washington, Oregon, and California comprise the Holy Romanov Empire. And it is really weird to read this in the age of Covid-19.

    THE BODY READER (Anne Frasier) 4****
    First in the Jude Fontaine series. Detective Jude Fontaine was kidnapped three years ago and been held captive. I like that the story begins with her escape, and we never have to hear the story of captivity. Some writers would love to tell you the details. Jude learned to read her captor’s body language and when she returns to duty it becomes her superpower.

    THE BURGLAR IN SHORT ORDER (Lawrence Block) 4****
    A collection of all the short stories and related non-fiction about his Bernie Rhodenbarr character. I particularly liked the the account of how Whoopi Goldberg came to play Bernie in the movie “Burglar.”

    THE WATERS OF ETERNAL YOUTH (Donna Leon) 4****
    Audio book version. David Colacci does an excellent job as narrator in this police procedural series set in Venice, Italy.

    A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC (V.E. Schwab) 3***
    A fantasy novel of magic in four overlapping London’s, Grey, White, Red and Black. This is the first of three in the series.

    DEAD IN THE WATER (Ted Wood) 3***
    The first in the Reid Bennett series. Bennett becomes the sheriff is a small, sleepy town in Canada. A good book with good series potential. I will look for more.

    • davidallen909

      Hey, R.D.! Thanks for joining us (from an appropriate distance). I’ll bet I read that Rex Stout back in the day.

    • Terri Shafer

      Good month, Rinaldo! “A Longer Fall” looks like it would be an interesting one to read at this time!!

    • DebB

      As soon as I read this I went straight to Amazon and looked for the Lawrence Block book. I love Bernie Rhodenbarr and have read all the books at least twice. I’m really looking forward to reading this new book.

      I also really enjoy the Nero Wolfe stories. They’re dated and occasionally politically incorrect, but Archie is really a treat! I think I have Triple Jeopardy somewhere on my shelves.