Monday 31 December 2018

New Year's Eve post and the best of the year...

I have a cup of tea and a delicious Uncle Tetsu's Japanese Cheesecake tart to start the last day of the year, and that means it’s time for a recount of my year in reading, including a total of books read and a “Best of...” list.
But first, I finished two books this past week that I want to tell you about, both by Canadian mystery writers.  The first is the newest book in Peter Robinson’s “DCI Alan Banks” series (I guess it’s DS now that he’s been promoted to Detective Superintendent), Careless Love.  On a deserted country road, a young woman is found dead from an apparent overdose in a vacant car that is waiting to be towed after an accident earlier in the week.  On the moors, a wealthy businessman is found dead at the bottom of a gully, wearing a suit and dress shoes. Could these two suspicious deaths be related, or are they exactly what they seem, a suicide and an accident?  Banks is on the case of the young woman, and Annie Cabbot is taking the lead on the businessman’s death, and what they uncover may lead to a darker web of activity that could put others in danger before it stops. In between investigating these two crimes, Banks and Annie still find time to socialize with Annie’s father, Ray, and Ray’s new girlfriend, the young, beautiful, enigmatic Zelda, who does some work for a British Secret Service (MI5?) identifying faces on surveillance video.  This leads to a recognition of Phil Keane, the art document forger who conned Annie and nearly killed Banks in an earlier book, Playing with Fire, who now seems to be involved in a much nastier human trafficking ring.  Alas, this doesn’t get resolved in this book, but I suspect it will be the main focus of the next in this series - Robinson may as well have concluded the last paragraph with “To be continued…”.  This novel was OK, but as I said in my post about his last book, Sleeping in the Ground, while it was a solid police procedural, it lacked zing, it didn’t “shine”, it was a bit ho hum.  The exploration into personal relationships was also lacking in this book, as in his last one, and the main storyline was only mildly interesting, at least to this reader.  I guess once you’ve achieved the level of fame Robinson has, you can be guaranteed to be published, no matter how good (or not) your next book is. I wish he would take a break from the “Banks” books and write another standalone, but I suspect that is not what he’s working on right now.  Anyway, it was a quick read, and just the type of book I needed over the holidays.
And I read a Silver Birch nominee by Canadian adult mystery writer Linwood Barclay, Chase.  Known mainly for his thrillers set in Promise Falls, this is his first book written for kids, and it was a good one.  Chipper is a genetically modified spy dog who escapes The Institute and certain termination. Jeff Conway is a twelve-year-old boy living and working at his Aunt Flo’s fishing camp.  He misses his dead parents, his old life, and the dog he had to give away when he moved to the camp. When Chipper shows up at the camp, Jeff becomes involved in a most dangerous game that, if lost, could cost both their lives.  This page-turner was well-written, with interesting plot and characters. The only problem was that it was too short - it actually did end with the words “To be continued…”, and there is a second book available, Escape, which I think I need to purchase for my school library, as any student who reads this one will be sure to want to know what happens next!
And now it’s time for a recap of my year of reading and the “Best of” lists, which include a few surprises. I read 61 books and listened to 28 audiobooks last year.
Best of 2018
Adult books:
Little Bee Chris Cleave The Liar’s Girl Catherine Ryan Howard Sudden Light Garth Stein Home Fire Kamila Shamsie The Deserters Pamela Mulloy The Death of Mrs Westaway Ruth Ware From a Low and Quiet Sea Donal Ryan IQ Joe Ide Autumn Ali Smith Missing, Presumed Susie Steiner
*Bonus Books* Nine Perfect Strangers Liane Moriarty and The Nest Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Juvenile/Young Adult Books:
Monday’s Not Coming Tiffany Jackson (YA) Broken Things Lauren Oliver (YA) The Breadwinner Deborah Ellis (JUV) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas John Boyne (YA) Chase Linwood Barclay (JUV)

Cemetery Boys Heather Brewer (YA) Trespasser Tana French I’d Know You Anywhere Laura Lippman The Midnight Dress Karen Foxlee (YA) The Punishment She Deserves Elizabeth George
That’s all for today.  Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope that 2019 is filled with good health, good friends, and plenty of good books!

Bye for now…

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