On this snowy day, the last day of February in this leap year, I wish I had some book to write about that would be somehow symbolic, something that would reflect the rarity of the day (Feb 29) or the anticipation of change from February, or bleak mid-winter, to March, and the expectation that spring is just around the corner. Alas, I don't have anything like that to write about in my post today, but I hope it will still be interesting for you to read.
I've had a busy morning with unexpected dental work (yuck!), but hopefully I'm on the mend, so I'm drinking my tea cautiously to avoid exposure of my sensitive tooth to the hot liquid. (I'm enjoying it less this way than when I drink with "total abandon", but it's still yummy). I finished The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill last week. Remember in my last post I talked about this author and this stand-alone novel? Well, it was something different for me, as I've never read any Reginald Hill novels before, although it is along the lines of the type of books I enjoy, that is, British mystery and crime novels. This one was well-written and interesting, with several storylines involving different characters who interact in different ways depending on their relationship to the stories and other characters. It tells the story of Wolf, a poor boy and son of a woodcutter on a wealthy estate who falls in love with the daughter of the estate and goes off to better himself in the hope that he will be deemed worthy of her hand. This he achieves, and it is a fairytale relationship that suddenly comes crashing down in an instant. The rest of the novel relays Wolf's attempts to uncover what has really happened, who caused it, and why. It was this "fairytale" quality which did not particularly appeal to me - if you recall, I recently tried to read a John Connolly novel that also read like a fairytale and I gave up on it not far into the book. But this novel was complex enough, and had enough other content, that I was able to stick with it and gloss over the fairytale imagery used by the author. In particular, one character stood out for me and kept me interested. Alva Ozigbo, the main character's psychologist, was most compelling for me, as her parts in the novel were written in a style that reminded me of Minette Walters. The reader often got not just her dialogue to other characters, but her inner dialogue and personal thoughts. Perhaps she was most interesting because her character was the most "transparent", that is, she seemed to have the least to hide, so what you saw was what you got (well, the reader got more than the other characters in the book, because he or she was privy to Alva's inner dialogue, too). It was definitely well-written and thought-provoking, so well worth reading, even if some parts do not appeal to you personally.
Now I'm reading The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin. This Scottish author is a favourite of a woman I used to work with, Sylvia, who grew up in Edinburgh, where many of Rankin's novels are set. He is probably most famous for his "Detective Inspector Rebus" series. I've read a few novels in that series, but haven't read anything by Rankin for quite a while. This novel is the second in a new series, "Inspector Malcolm Fox", and it features Fox as the lead investigator of the Edinburgh Police Department's Complaints Department. In this novel, he and his team are investigating the arrest of an officer in the Fife Constabulary who is accused of asking for and/or receiving sexual favours from females in return for his willingness to turn a blind eye to criminal behaviour, real or imagined. This leads to investigation into possible widespread police corruption and cover-ups spanning more than 20 years, and involves not just the Complaints Department, but the local police and those at HQ. It's gritty and realistic, with absolutely no trace of anything resembling a fairytale! I just started it yesterday, and am about a third of the way through. I would definitely recommend it, and other novels by this author, if you are interested in Scottish crime fiction, and Edinburgh in particular - the city is referred to and described so often, it is practically a character in and of itself.
And I'm about halfway through my audiobook, Dead Center by David Rosenfelt, part of the "Andy Carpenter" series. I've listened to another of this author's books, Don't Tell a Soul, (a stand-alone novel) and thought it was good enough that I could try another. This one is not a disappointment. Andy, an independently wealthy lawyer, is called away by his former girlfriend to a small town in Wisconsin to represent Jeremy, a boy accused of murdering is ex-girlfriend and her friend after a night out at a bar. The girlfriend is from a closed religious community in a nearby small town called Center City, so called because the religious leader who founded the town believed that it was the religious centre of the universe (or at least the country, I can't remember which). Anyways, this legal mystery has an interesting storyline, it is well-written and light in tone, but it is also informative regarding legal processes and procedures. And there's a bit of a lovestory - will Andy and Laurie get back together? Can they make their relationship work? The narrator uses just the right tones for both the narration and the characters, which also appeals to this listener. Mystery, lovestory, ultra-religious cults, and great narration - could anyone ask for more from an audiobook? Not this listener!
That's all for today.
Bye for now!
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