I’m sitting here drinking my steeped chai tea and nibbling on a slice of freshly baked Date Bread and thinking about the end of summer vacation. I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine, but it would be nice to have just a little bit more time... (I just got a stack of holds from the library yesterday, and I know that I won't have time to read them all… *sigh*)
I did manage to finish one book last week and nearly finish another… WOO HOO! The first is by Robert Rotenberg, Heart of the City, which just came out a few weeks ago. Ari Greene is back from England along with a surprise, a daughter he never knew he had. Determined to leave behind his past as a homicide detective, along with the false accusation of murder he recently faced, he takes a job at a construction site working for an old friend who is the foreman. The site is for the construction of a condo, the first of two planned to be built in eclectic Kensington Market, a plan that has incited controversy from those who want to keep the area, the “heart of the city”, from becoming gentrified. After work one Friday, Ari goes into the back shed that serves as the office for the "Condo King", Livingston Fox, and discovers Fox’s body - the man has clearly been murdered, but why and by whom? There are plenty of people who would want to see the reviled downtown developer dead, but do any of them hate him enough to kill him? Despite his reluctance, Ari is drawn back into the world of criminal investigation as more bodies are discovered, and he and his former friend Detective Daniel Kennicott race to uncover the truth before more people die. This latest in Rotenberg’s “Toronto” series (that’s what I call them, since the city of Toronto is a character in itself in these books) was a satisfying crime novel, a thriller that was at once a page-turner and a look at the way people think and adapt as situations in their lives change. That is the wonderful thing about his books - they manage to be both “Canadian Tire” books (fast-paced and plot-driven) as well as “Lee Valley” ones (thought-provoking and language- or character-driven), and this one does this to a T. I was just recommending these books to a friend yesterday who enjoys John Grisham's novels (the blurb on the cover of Heart of the City from the Telegraph-Journal says “Rotenberg is Canada’s John Grisham”), but I told him to start with Old City Hall, his first book and the one in which the reader is introduced to all the characters.
And I’m planning to finish another book today, The Quantum Spy by David Ignatius. This novel is also a thriller, but very different from Rotenberg’s book. As you might guess from the title, it is a cyber-thriller that takes the reader from America to China to Mexico in search of the secret to building a super-fast quantum computer. China and the U.S. are adversaries in their race to build a such a computer, but the secret of sustaining the stability of qubits for more than a few seconds eludes every engineer and technological scientist around the world. When a break-through in the U.S. is thought to be on the horizon, the CIA tries to infiltrate China’s Ministry of State Security and uncover the identity of the “mole”, known as Rukou or “the Doorway”, that has been leaking high-level information about this project to Chinese government officials. But can they figure out the identity and apprehend the traitor before the Chinese government gets the information they want? This is definitely a “Canadian Tire” book, fast-paced and plot-driven, but one that requires this reader to read rather slowly and give consideration to every page, as I don’t really understand all the scientific parts about quantum computing (I must be learning something, though, as I was able to use the word "qubits" correctly in a sentence - see above!!). I received an Advanced Reading Copy from the publisher, and it is expected to be available in November, so if this book sounds interesting to you, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait awhile.
That’s all for today. Happy “last week of August”!
Bye for now…