Books & Blog: June 27, 2016

Books of the Week:

  • The Hot Country, Timothy Hallinan
  • Deadly Spells, Jaye Wells
  • Working Stiff, Judy Melinek, M.D., and T.J. Mitchell
  • Darkness on his Bones, Barbara Humbly

Timothy Hallinan is such a good writer because he gets into the heads of characters more thoroughly than any writer I’ve never known. One of the elderly men in The Hot Country is falling into dementia, and Hallinan lets us know what that’s like. The little group of old ex-pats are the usual customers of a tiny bar, and Poke Rafferty, Hallinan’s protagonist, was taken under their wing when he first arrived in Thailand. Now that a threat from the past has raised its snake-like head, Poke has to rely on the fading men to track and ensnare the man who wants to kill him. It’s a good book, and I highly recommend all the Poke Rafferty books, in case you haven’t picked one up.

Deadly Spells is an urban fantasy featuring Kate Prospero, a former member of a coven, who now works for the Magical Enforcement Agency. They get called when the bodies don’t look human. Kate is dragging a lot of regret and bad past around with her, but she’s struggling to be a good person. When the MEA is called to the scene of a clearly ritualized killing, Kate finds she knows the victim. Jaye Wells has written several books about Kate, but this was the first one I’d read, and I really enjoyed it.

I am a sucker for medical examiner books, and Working Stiff was right up my alley. Dr. Judy Melinek spent two years in New York as a medical examiner, and she started work two months before 9/11. Besides giving knowledge of the process of forensic pathology, Melinek makes the book warm and personal in her account of her career in medicine and how she struggled to combine that with having two children. Not surprising when the co-writer is her husband (a stay-at-home dad), but it’s a great approach to the material.

I am a fan of Barbara Hambly’s, especially of her Don Simon Ysidro books. James Asher, an undercover agent for England who knows that vampires are real, is badly vampire bitten in Paris while he is on the job. His wife Lydia must find him and get him out of Paris and out of France, because war is coming. Don Simon is willing to help because he loves Lydia, but his help comes with the realization that the Ashers are seeking assistance from a murderer.  Darkness on his Bones is another good read from Hambly.

Blog: Reading Seasons

I think of winter as a great reading time, and so do the publishers. I envision being trapped inside by the Arctic weather (which doesn’t happen often in Texas), or being iced in (which happens often enough). Then there’s beaucoup time to read. And summer! Who hasn’t heard the phrase “beach book”? However, I am a year-round reader, and I suspect most of the people I know are also in that category . . . though I am afraid I know quite a few people who don’t read at all. Maybe I am suspecting them unfairly.

That depends on what poll you read. According to the Los Angeles Times, a poll of over 1,000 people reported that 72% of the adults had read a book in the past year.

According to another poll, 42% of adults said they hadn’t read a book since college. This makes me so depressed I can hardly function.

But an article by Andrew Merle, “The Reading Habits of Ultra-successful People,” states that Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk are all habitual readers. But Merle points out that these very successful people read for self-improvement and education, not for entertainment. (I guess Oprah’s picking the book for her book club would be closest to entertainment reading in this group.)

Merle quotes another writer, Tom Corley (RICH HABITS) in this brief work. Corley found that the lower the income, the more people read for sheer entertainment, not for self-improvement. Well, that’s me. I have beer tastes in reading.

I’m proud to belong to the (whatever) percentile of Americans are still buying and reading books, specifically fiction. And I’ve done this steadily since college. I belong to The Few, The Proud, the Readers. I suspect you do, too. Do you really know someone who hasn’t read a book since college?

Charlaine Harris