In "The Bookseller," author Mark Pryor follows an American detective associated with the U.S. embassy in Paris as he tracks the disappearance and possibly murder of one of his favorite bouquinistes in the City of Lights. What did the man know that made his life so valuable? I found it well written and of course with a Paris theme, much to love! I would read more by Mark Pryor.
Ann Hood's "Kitchen Yarns" is a collection of essays related to food and to the author's life. She includes many of her favorite family recipes, most of which look very good and pretty easy to make.
Blogger Erika introduced me to the "Ruth Galloway" mysteries by Elly Griffiths. I read several of these this summer and two more are on the pile! Set in northern England, Ruth is a forensic archaeologist, specializing in very old bones. Needless to say, one who can identify bones can often get mixed up in murder. They are very atmospheric and while contemporary, have a historic focus, given the archaeological slant.
I also read several books by Donna Leon. Her Commissario Guido Brunetti books are set in
Paris Venice (thanks, Mae!) and combine intricate mysteries with a delightful narrative. Oh, when Guido and his wife Paola dine, you'll be wanting to cook Italian food too. (No recipes included, darn it!) The mysteries are complex and I've yet to figure one out but they are most intriguing. I've never been to Venice, but Guide makes me think about putting it on the itinerary.
"Every Contact Leaves a Trace" is another mystery (I love mysteries!) and this one is set on the grounds of Worcester College, Oxford. A husband and wife, both former students if the college, attend a reunion, but when the wife is murdered, her husband is caught in a mystery that draws in former students and tutors and even his wife's godmother.
Rhys Bowen's "Royal Spyness" mysteries are an easy, fast read. After reading something heavy and you want something to breeze through, these are fun. Set in the 1930s, "Crowned and Dangerous" finds Lady Georgina's surprise elopement derailed when her beau's father is arrested for murder. As he goes to attend to it, Georgie returns to London but realizes she can't leave him to the case alone. It's just fun.
I usually love everything Ann Patchett writes. But I didn't love "Commonwealth." It follows the children of two families whose lives are disrupted when they become blended following their parents' divorces. The book follows them through time. You may love the saga. I was just bored and didn't much like the kids. Ann can do better.
Back to mysteries. Why did I wait so long to read Josephine Tey's "The Daughter of Time"? This one reads like history in its way. Detective Adam Grant is in the hospital and in traction and as his friends bring him books and things to occupy his time, he becomes intrigued by a portrait of Richard III, England's king noted for the murder of the princes in the tower. But Grant is not so sure Richard is guilty and sets out to prove his thesis. I loved it.
If you watched the original "Grantchester" series on PBS, you'll have met Canon Sydney Chambers and his Cambridge police detective buddy, Geordie. The series was based on James Runcie's books and this summer I read two of them. The books take the series far beyond the episodes seen and read more like fiction than a regular mystery -- and yet, something is always happening and Geordie almost always needs Sydney to help solve the case. These are fun.
"Mudlarking" by Lara Maiklem may have been one of the more fascinating summer reads. Maiklem is a mudlark, one who goes digging through the mud when the tide is out on the Thames, searching for treasures of times past. This book follows her adventures at various sites on the river and combines her seeking and finding with history of the river and its people. It is intriguing and while I might not be wanting to dig in the mud with her, I'm was fascinated and learned plenty!
I learned a lot from "The Wild Remedy" by Emma Mitchell, too. Mitchell lives in England and like many must deal with the depression that comes from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Her lifesaving antidote is to dig deep into nature, following the cycles of the seasons with the eye of an acute observer and then recording her impressions both in words and through art. The book takes readers through a calendar year -- through her most glorious moments and most troubled times. It is exquisitely illustrated.
I have to say I was quite disappointed in Julian Fellowes' period novel, "Belgravia." It has recently been made a mini-series. I didn't watch. I could hardly get through the book. The premise is that a young woman becomes pregnant by her finacee right before he leaves for war in the mid-1800s. He is a nobleman and she is the daughter of a well-to-do merchant -- a fine woman but not for a man of his standing. The plot involves the hiding of the pregnancy from his family after he is killed in the war. Two families are brought together over another generation in a story of manipulative family politics. Julian ("Downton Abbey") can do better.
Two of the books I greatly enjoyed were from the British Crime Library classcs series. Both are closed-doors or "locked room" mysteries, books where the murder has occurred in a room in which there is only one exit -- and no one was seen entering or leaving. "The Division Bell Mystery, " by Ellen Wilkinson (herself a member of Parliament) is set in England's Parliament. "It Walks by Night," by John Dickson Carr, is set in Paris. And "Death Has Deep Roots" by Michael Gilbert is yet another that did not disappoint. I have to say, I love the British Library Crime Classics. Some of the writing may be a bit dated, but the plots are always intriguing. (And they have fabulous covers!)
Most all of these I would recommend. Meanwhile, my stack is very large indeed.
I won't be short of reading material during our next lockdown!