Following the LiveJournal poll I posted, I brought a handful of books on my train trip east. Here’s a quick write up of them:
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers I’m going to be reading more of these, but I wish I’d saved this one for later. It’s the book where the two leads finally marry, and while reading the beginning I was very aware that it was paying off a long setup that I had barely touched. Still, it was a terrific book, surprisingly layered, with an interesting portrayal of the British class system of the time.
It was also the strangest cozy ever. Where most mysteries end with the killer discovered and everything set right, this one took a close look at the cost of setting things right. Terrific book.
With a Single Spell by Lawrence Watt-Evans This one got the most votes in the poll and it was great fun (and a bit of a pick-me-up after the end of Busman’s Honeymoon. An elderly wizard dies after having only taught his apprentice to cast one spell: how to start a fire. Too old to be taken on by another wizard, and with no local ties, he sets off into the wider world.
Which sorta sounds like the plot to a whole bunch of other fantasies, but this is an lwe book: misunderstandings between characters build until they have a sensible conversation to clear the air, high adventure is something to be avoided if at all possible, crimes are something that make you look out a window wondering what all the ruckus is about, and people generally act like the regular folk you encounter in real life. Oh, and there’s no secret “Chosen One” powers to solve the plot at the end. It was a fun book and a nice antidote to a few overblown fantasy novels I can think of.
The Outfit by Richard Stark Zoom, this book races right by. Parker is an armed robber who has been targeted by the mob. This ticks him off, and he gets himself a little revenge with a gun and… a letter-writing campaign.
Which sounds nuts, but the independent criminals he’s been partnered with have always left mob-owned businesses alone. They have a truce of sorts. Parker lets word get out that the Outfit is leaning on him, so if any of his old partners see a mob joint ripe for robbing, now is the time to hit it.
Which means this is a Parker book without a lot of Parker in it. That turns out to be fine by me, since Parker is a bit of a pill on the best of days, and I sometimes have a problem with the way he kills a whole bunch of people for the sort of payday that would cover Joe the Plumber’s bills for a few months.
A good book, solid and exciting.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris At first I found the voice of Sookie Stackhouse difficult to believe in, and the generic nature of Sam and Bill’s names confused me sometimes, but before I knew it I was sucked in by the story and racing along with the plot. Yeah I guessed the killer early, and I had a hard time believing that anyone would believe a “vampire virus” would let sufferers levitate, but Sookie’s relationship with her brother was wonderfully complicated, and she’s an engaging character.
I hated the TV show, but I enjoyed this.