I'm going to forego my usual Weekend Cooking post today in order to catch up on some book notes on recently read books.
68. Murder Casts a Shadow - first Hawai'i mystery
by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl
An especially wonderful mystery set in 1935 Hawai'i. The book is full of incredibly vivid descriptions, and very well-drawn characters. I learned a great deal about the history, the language, the culture of this most wonderful place. I've bought the second in the series called Murder Leaves Its Mark. I can't praise this highly enough. More a novel with a mystery than a straight mystery. Though written recently, it has the feel of a Golden Age mystery, and not only because it is set in the thirties. The writing is truly beautiful, and the description of a pre-WW II Hawaii filled me with longing to have lived there then.
69. Three Witnesses - a Nero Wolfe mystery
by Rex Stout
Kindle book, 44
I've raved about Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin a few times in my letters. They are two of my favorite fictional characters of all time. This book is comprised of three novellas, or long short stories. Each one perfect. The last one involves a dog, with a most surprising, warm-hearted ending. No one can beat Rex Stout for his evocation of New York City in older days.
70. Death Among Friends (Dead and Buried, English title) - ninth in the Mrs. Malory series
by Hazel Holt
Not completely a Christmas book, since 3/4 of it takes place after Christmas, but it was still fun reading about Mrs M's Christmas. Not going to list it under my Christmas Books since it really isn't an important part of the book. A little formulaic but saved by sparkling wit. It took until page 106 to kill off the 'miserable cuss' as my father used to say. And it was the third 'accident' the person had had. I do get annoyed at her constant trying to make things better. Making excuses for someone's bad behavior. Perhaps this is good manners but I get frustrated with her inability, or her decision, to not deal directly with unpleasant people. Very satisfying but sad, as is often the case in these mysteries. The reader learns of the terrible things the murdered person did to many others.
72. No Mark Upon Her - fourteenth in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series
by Deborah Crombie
I could write pages about this book, but I think I shall simply say that this fourteenth in the series is the best ever. Period. The domestic life and the work life of Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are perfectly described. The characters grow and change just like real people in real life. The mystery is particularly interesting being set in the world of competitive rowing.
I've now read this series in three formats: twelve on the Kindle, one in paperback, and this one in hardcover, and by far, I prefer the latter. I love the way a big hardcover book will just sit there on my lap. It stays open easily. And the print is a good size for any reader. My friend Kay bought this via an UK seller because it isn't yet available in the US. Why on earth does this happen? Why isn't a book offered everywhere at once? Anyhow, because she hasn't yet completed the series, she most generously offered to let me read it first. And then I shall send it off to Teri, a friend of ours, and then it goes back to Kay. Lovely.
73. Mrs. McGinty's Dead - an Hercule Poirot mystery
by Agatha Christie
Kindle book, 46
Not my favorite Agatha Christie. I enjoy Ariadne Oliver but I begin to see her as a caricature rather than a character, with her apples strewn all about. This is one of those books where the sins of the past come back to haunt the present, and that people will do anything, including murder, to prevent knowledge of the past becoming known. Nice little twist at the end, but mostly the characters weren't so appealing to me.
From now through Christmas, I shall be reading Christmas books exclusively, except for my Kindle books.
I am going to join The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge at the Mistletoe level, 2-4 books. I'm also going to read some of the children's Christmas books I've kept from when my kids were little so shall sign on for the Visions of Sugar Plums level. And I may even write about some of the many Christmas movies we always watch for the Fa La La La Films level. All in all, a delightful way to spend my reading and watching time for the weeks leading up to Christmas. It runs from November 21 through Epiphany, January 6. I don't have a list of books I plan to read. My titles will come from the adult books on the table,
and the children's books in the basket.
I'm beginning my Christmas reading with a reread of Miss Read's Winter in Thrush Green.
Fa La La La Films:
1. Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read
2. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
3. The Old Peabody Pew by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Adult Short Story
1. Journey into Christmas by Bess Streeter Aldrich
Visions of Sugarplums
1. Children of Christmas by Cynthia Rylant
2. The Christmas Village by Melissa Ann Goodwin
Told For Children by William Dean Howells