- The Dark Angel, The Chalk Pit, Elly Griffiths
- Happy-Go-Lucy, A Carnival of Snackery, David Sedaris
- China Lake, Meg Gardiner
- Another Time, Another Place, Jodi Taylor
- When Sorrows Come, Seanan McGuire
- Unmasked, Paul Holes
- Rock of Ages, Timothy Hallinan
- Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
I’m almost caught up on the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. Keeping track of the relationships between the characters has become as absorbing as the mysteries. Griffiths is such a smooth writer that I forget she’s writing in the present tense, which normally is taboo for me. If you haven’t started this series about a Norfolk university professor called in by the police for her archaeology expertise, do yourself a favor.
David Sedaris is a unique voice in American writing today. Sharply observant and funny in a sort of bitter way, Sedaris writes with amazing precision. If you ever get a chance to attend one of his talks in person, don’t hesitate. It’ll be worth the money. Any of his books are a good place to start, these two as good as any.
I don’t read many thrillers, but I thought Meg Gardiner’s China Lake was so fast paced and the people so fallible but brave that it was a very fast and absorbing read for me. Lawyer/legal researcher/journalist Evan Delaney is horrified to discover that the ex-wife of her brother, mother of her beloved nephew, has joined a cult . . . and worse than that, she wants to regain custody of the boy. The cult wants Luke for its own purposes, which are unspeakable. The tension and action are gripping all the way through China Lake.
If you’ve read of any of these reviews over the years, you’ll know I’m a huge Jodi Taylor fan, especially of her St. Mary’s books. Another Time, Another Place is the latest installment in the adventures of Max, wife and mother and trouble magnet, and a time travel expert. Max has to take another job when she’s dishonorably discharged from St. Mary’s, and of course, this job leads to even more trouble for our favorite historian.
If you’ve been reading Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books, you won’t want to miss When Sorrows Come. I know that seems like a strange title for the book about October’s wedding to Tybalt, but you’ll see . . . it’s totally appropriate in its own way.
Paul Holes is a cold case investigator, and Unmasked is a very interesting book about the cost of doing such a job. You’ll be fascinated in a shuddery way at the dark paths Holes must follow to track down killers, and the toll his job takes on Holes’ life.
Timothy Hallinan is a wonderful writer. Rock of Ages is one of his Junior Bender books, about a career criminal in Los Angeles who has an ex-wife, a teenage daughter who wants answers about her father’s job, a faithful girlfriend, and some friends in high (criminal) places. Junior has to find out who’s skimming from a series of concerts by one-hit wonders, all of whom retain as much attitude as if they were in their prime instead of silver-haired. And his daughter wants to tag along to see what her dad really does.
Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is very long and very good. One apparently unremarkable girl in England before and during WWII is given multiple chances to change the unthinkable. Each time there are different events in her life and she handles them in different ways, and the choices she makes can lead to her death or to her second, third, or tenth chance to get it right. Scary and beautiful at the same time.
Every morning when I rise, I looked up “Chalk Mountain Fire” first thing. I’ve been doing that for a week now, and the fire is still burning and still only 10% contained. Ash from the fire, which has now consumed over 6,000 acres, falls on some developments in my home town daily. Somedays we can see the smoke, though Chalk Mountain is southwest of the town where I live.
If we have to get out, we have our list: dogs, electronics, clothes, important papers. And we have a place we can go to . . . if there’s no fire there. We are quite lucky. So far there has been no loss of life, but plenty of loss of property, and farmers and ranchers are scrambling to get their animals to safety.
This is fire season in Texas, no doubt about it. I can’t remember ever being in such anxiety for so long. Though people can be careless even in such a terrible drought as we have had, there are also ways fires can start without a human element . . . primarily, lightning. (If that came with thousands of buckets of rain, that would be better, but so far, no.)
There’s simply no denying climate change. It’s real, people. And I think if it were happening with conditions caused by us, the people of earth, we’d just have to go along with it. But if we had acted earlier and taken drastic steps . . . well, we didn’t. I get that: I don’t like to change my habits, or forego comforts, or convenience. But now we’re paying the price, and I don’t like that, either.
Sometimes it’s no fun being the caretakers of this planet.