It's a cool. overcast Sunday morning,and I've just finished my usual morning chores so I can settle down with a cup of chai tea and write a bit about what I've been reading and listening to over the past week. What a great way to start the week!
I finished Robinson's Before the Poison on Thursday evening, and it really was great. I would recommend it to just about anyone who enjoys a good traditional mystery. I looked up Robinson online last week and read a few reviews of this book - nearly every one compared this book to Du Maurier's Rebecca, so my comparisons were right on the mark. I also read that the first series of the "Inspector Banks" books have been filmed in the UK, and they are now working on a second series. I have often thought that they should make these books into films, as they have done with so many other British mystery series ("Midsomer Murders", "Inspector Lynley", "Rebus", "Frost", etc.), so I was thrilled to make this discovery. I hope to have access to these episodes somehow, likely through the library if the DVDs are available for order. I actually ordered the book through my work, and it arrived on my desk on Friday morning - I will definitely re-read this novel, as I find with a well-written mystery, there are always details you miss when you read it the first time which you catch on the second reading because you already know the ending.
Speaking of filming books, I recently saw that the Australian novel The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas, has been made into an 8-part mini-sereis that is airing on TVO on Monday nights at 10pm. I think tomorrow will be Part 3, but I haven't been watching it on TV, as I usually go to bed by then. Instead, my husband has downloaded the first few parts, and we've watched the first part. If you recall, I read this novel last summer and thought it was really well-done, dealing with many complex and difficult issues with insight and understanding. The story begins with a group of friends and family getting together for a BBQ to celebrate someone's 40th birthday. The relationships of the guests and hosts are complex and varied, and there is building tension as the event proceeds. The tension comes to a head when someone slaps a child who is not his own, and the rest of the story follows the events that result from this act. While the book was not perfect, and this reader felt it dealt unnecessarily with a few too many issues, making it overly long and complicated, it was still an ambitious and successful book on many levels. Having watched the first part in the mini-series, I feel that it accurately captures the spirit and tone of the book, from what I can recall. Maybe tonight we will watch the second part. Be warned, it is not an uplifting book, and the mini-series promises to be just as bleak.
I'm nearly finished listening to Bill Moody's novel Shades of Blue. I think I mentioned this audiobook before, and commented that it is read by my new favourite narrator, Grover Gardner. Well, this novel has a noir tone to the writing, or maybe it's just the way the narrator is reading it, but I'm enjoying it. It is really a jazz mystery. There is no murder to solve; rather, the main character, Evan Horne, is concerned with finding out whether a fellow musician who has recently passed away was involved with the composition of any tunes on the famous Miles Davis album, "Kind of Blue", but remains uncredited. This search takes him from Los Angeles to San Frascisco to Boston and New York, and he meets up with friends old and new and makes discoveries along the way. The author writes so much about "Kind of Blue" that I decided I had to listen to it again after many years. I pulled it out of my CD collection yesterday, and I'm listening to it even as I write. This novel is one of a series, the "Evan Horne" series, and based on this novel, I believe that the rest of the series will be made up of jazz mysteries as well, although not always taking place in the USA. I'm enjoying this audiobook, but I feel that if you don't know much about jazz or have an interest in it, you may find this book and others to be rather flat and disappointing. I don't mind the lengthy passages about imagined recording sessions of the past or possible uncredited composition contributions, but I think I will take a break from Moody's books once I finish this, and will listen to something else.
I was on a search for a new book to read yesterday, since it is still too early to start my next book club selection. I picked up a number of items that I had placed on hold at the library recently, so had an assortment to sample, including Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller's Orange Prize winning novel. As I read the first few pages of each of these novels, I thought that they were interesting, but that this was not the right time to read them. Instead, I picked up a copy of an "Inspector Wexford" mystery by Ruth Rendell that I had on my bookshelf, and will read that for now. I needed something "light" and accessible, both physically and literarily (is that a word?), for now, as I have just a few days before it will be time to start reading The Book Thief for my book club. I think it's just begun to rain, so I'm looking forward to a few good hours of reading a British mystery this afternoon.
Bye for now!
PS A few hours later... OK this is really weird. I'm reading End in Tears by Ruth Rendell, which I began yesterday but stopped reading after the first chapter. In that chapter, an attempt was made by an anonymous person to drop a heavy concrete block on someone's car. As I find out later in the book, which I read today, that attempt took place on June 24th. Today is June 24th! That's so weird! Of all the books I could have chosen to read, in which today's date would not have been significant or mentioned for any reason, I managed to choose a novel in which it is mentioned many times because of its significance to the events that follow. This is not the the first time this has happend, and it's starting to make me think something is helping to direct my reading schedule beyond just me or pure chance (I don't really believe that, but still... you must agree that this is very weird). This is a book I picked up at the big booksale in Waterloo in I think April, so really, it would have been more likely that I would have read it then, shortly after discovering the joys of Ruth Rendell mysteries for myself, but I didn't read it then, for whatever reason. I think at that time I was drawn to read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, another novel where the timing of the reading coincided with a significant date in the book. Hmmm... makes you think... I'll keep reading, as I'm clearly destined to read this book at this time.