There is something immensely likeable about Kensey Millhone and Grafton's series so far. Swiftly-moving and well-plotted, the books are a quick, fun read.
We finally get a resolution that doesn't involve Kinsey in mortal peril, which was a nice change. My update mentioned that this victim had a lot of enemies and that I therefore had no idea who had done it, and the ending was a surprise to me, although I'm not sure if that was because Grafton successfully palmed the ace, or if it was because I truly didn't find it all that convincing.
I think it was the latter, really. I'm not convinced that the "villain" in this case would actually have done what happened in the book. So, while it was well-done, it really wasn't all that believable.
I really enjoyed spending the book with Kinsey, though. She is a combination of cynical and warm-hearted, and while I understand why she was conflicted at the end of the book, her willingness to seek the truth on behalf of someone as reprehensible as Dagget, the victim, speaks well of her moral compass. I'm not particularly bothered by cheating in a non-romance context, so the development in her relationship with Jonas, a married man, didn't cause me any heartburn.
All in all, this was a satisfying entry, mostly for Kinsey, and less so for the solution to the mystery.
I finished the Adventure Quilt with a full 24 hours to spare!
The going away party is tomorrow evening. I actually end up listening to more podcasts this week and sort of ignored my audiobook, so I have no audiobook finishes! I listened to a lot of old Book Riot podcasts, though, so I've added a few books to my personal "wishlist"!
I am listening to Crooked House by Agatha Christie. I got bored with A Discovery of Witches, so I decided to take a break from it!
I finished The Venetian Affair by Helen MacInnes last night, and am starting a new book today! I am planning on reading Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke next - she has been on my radar for a while, so I'm looking forward to this one! I am also still working on The Perfect Summer, and am at the 20% mark on that one, so I hope to make some progress over the long weekend!
I only bought a few books this week!
1. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: I've had my eye on this one since it popped up on my radar. I think I'm one of the few people left on the planet who hasn't read The Nightingale, but this one, with its Alaska setting and it's very contemporary issues surrounding PTSD and soldiers returning from war, really appeals to me. 2. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson: it feels like YA mystery (without supernatural overtones) is finally going to be a thing, and I'm a fan of Johnson's breezy writing style, so I have high hopes for this one! 3. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey: I am so excited for this book! I first heard about it on the Book Riot Read or Dead podcast, where the hosts have been raving about it. It's set in 1920's Bombay, and the main character is one of the first female lawyers in India. 4. Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke: I have been trying to read more books by women of color, and Attica Locke and Sujata Massey are both authors of color. I have been planning to read a book by her for at least a year, since I initially stumbled onto her debut novel, Black Water Rising, which I already own by haven't yet read. This one, her most recent novel, has been optioned by FX for a television show (Locke is a writer and producer of Empire, an Emmy-winning show on FX), and was also featured on Read or Dead. The description sounds amazing: "A rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas, Bluebird, Bluebird is an exhilarating, timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America." Whaaat? Must. Read. Now.
Happy weekend, everyone! If you are lucky enough to get a three day weekend, take some time to read!
I'm still working hard on the Adventure Quilt - it has to be finished by the going away party next Saturday (2/17) because the recipient is leaving Oregon for parts unknown on 2/18. I'll post pics of the finished quilt.
Because of this, most of my reading is occurring through listening right now! I downloaded A Discovery of Witches as an audiobook because it sounded like an appealing reread. I'm about 5 hours in, and have about 18 hours left. I am still dithering on whether I will continue to listen to it, or move onto Crooked House by Agatha Christie, which I could probably finish this weekend.
I've barely dipped into A World Undone and I haven't even cracked This Rough Magic. I'm at about 20% in The Venetian Affair.
I just bought D is for Deadbeat and E is for Evidence to continue my Kinsey Millhone read over the next ten days or so. I also picked up The Last Summer by Juliet Nicholson, which is a non-fiction book about the summer of 1911, prior to the beginning of WWI in 1914. I am planning to blow through that one (it's a mere 325 pages) before really digging into a A World Undone. I'm loosely planning on following it with Nicholson's book about the time after the armistice, called The Great Silence. I also bought Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate, mostly because I wanted to buy a BLCC and I liked the cover.
Total for the week: $34.90
This book is told in reverse - we're told at the very beginning who the "C" is, just not why. Even so, Grafton made me care, and care a lot, about the victim.
There is a lot of character development going on in this book - we see Kinsey becoming an emotionally three dimensional main character, with strong attachments. The side story between Henry and Kinsey is charming, as she protects him from a honey trap who is out to fleece him.
The mystery itself is well-written, and is probably the strongest story so far. I really had no idea what was going on until pretty close to the end. I do have one small quibble - I'm actually growing tired of Kinsey almost becoming a victim of the murderer, and I'd like to see a few books where she apprehends the bad guy without imperiling herself because she's done something incredibly reckless and stupid. I don't want her to devolve into TSTL, and she could.
Great series so far, though, and I'm glad I finally decided to start it!
So far my NF reading project is going beautifully, with two amazing reads up front. This book was riveting and infuriating. I finished it last night, and I'm still pissed about the systemic failures that enabled what could justifiably be called an attempted genocide fueled by malice and greed. I think it was Char's review that mentioned that if this had been a novel, I would've found it overheated and unconvincing.
It's books like this that honestly make me question whether or not humanity ought not just be allowed to die. The conspiracy to fleece the Osages of the wealth which they only obtained by sheer unadulterated luck after being forced out of their native lands by a greedy government that wanted their lands for white settlers, onto a remote, worthless pile of rock was deplorable. The powerful white community that conspired to effectuate this is shocking. Not content, however, to just defraud them, the white community engaged in an apparent wide-ranging conspiracy to gain their property through murder.
Everyone of those men and women who married for gain, murdered for gain and buried for gain likely thought of themselves as fine, upstanding Christian men and women. These were the pillars of society - the lawyers, the judges, THE FUCKING DOCTORS (first, let us do no harm apparently doesn't apply if one is treating Native Americans), the police - they murdered dozens, maybe hundreds, of Osage tribe members.
The only explanation for this that makes sense is that, by this time, the Native Americans had been so dehumanized through popular culture and government policy that they were not recognized as human beings, and these people didn't think of what they did as murder. This isn't an excuse, rather it is an indictment of an entire culture that allowed this to flourish under its watch. The intergenerational trauma that has resulted from this horror can only be profound.
There was literally no one who got in their way. The entire community either participated or ignored what was happening to their Osage neighbors. It makes me sick to think of it.
The team that was assembled to solve the murders was interesting, and many of the men were quite admirable, but that section of the book pales in comparison to the story of the victims.
This book is fucking infuriating.
"The more White investigated the flow of oil money from Osage headrights, the more he found layer upon layer of corruption. Although some white guardians and administrators tried to act in the best interests of the tribe, countless others used the system to swindle the very people they were ostensibly protecting. Many guardians would purchase, for their wards, goods from their own stores or inventories at inflated prices. (One guardian bought a car for $250 and then resold it to his ward for $1,250.) Or guardians would direct all of their wards’ business to certain stores and banks in return for kickbacks. Or guardians would claim to be buying homes and land for their wards while really buying these for themselves. Or guardians would outright steal.
One government study estimated that before 1925 guardians had pilfered at least $8 million directly from the restricted accounts of their Osage wards. “The blackest chapter in the history of this State will be the Indian guardianship over these estates,” an Osage leader said, adding, “There has been millions—not thousands—but millions of dollars of many of the Osages dissipated and spent by the guardians themselves.”
The white community used the so-called "incompetence" of the wealthy Osages to mandate guardianships, and then proceeded to bleed them dry.
"Some of the schemes were beyond depraved. The Indian Rights Association detailed the case of a widow whose guardian had absconded with most of her possessions. Then the guardian falsely informed the woman, who had moved from Osage County, that she had no more money to draw on, leaving her to raise her two young children in poverty. “For her and her two small children, there was not a bed nor a chair nor food in the house,” the investigator said. When the widow’s baby got sick, the guardian still refused to turn over any of her money, though she pleaded for it. “Without proper food and medical care, the baby died,” the investigator said.
The Osage were aware of such schemes but had no means to stop them. After the widow lost her baby, evidence of the fraud was brought before a county judge, only to be ignored. “There is no hope of justice so long as these conditions are permitted to remain,” the investigator concluded. “The human cry of this…woman is a call to America.” An Osage, speaking to a reporter about the guardians, stated, “Your money draws ’em and you’re absolutely helpless. They have all the law and all the machinery on their side. Tell everybody, when you write your story, that they’re scalping our souls out here.”
This is narrated by Joan Hickson, who previously starred in the older Marple adaptations. Her voice is almost masculine, in the way that the voices of strong-willed elderly ladies can become masculine in later life.
Miss Marple is deceiving - she is most emphatically not a fluttering, twittering old lady, no matter how much she pretends to be one in order to Find Out Things. I like her better when I remember that her fragility is all an act, and that underneath that fluffy hand-knitted sweater lurks a spirit of razor wire and ground glass. She will cut you.
I actually found this one to be quite an enjoyable mystery. The solution is startling and Christie does her best with redirection, sending me one way and then another. I had read it before, but it was years ago, so I couldn't remember the murderer. I was surprised, although not shocked, and she had me haring off in an entirely different direction right before the reveal.
I also loved Lucy Islesbarrow (or however her name is spelled). As I'm rereading, I'm taking note of Christie's young women, and finding them to be great fun. Lucy is a terrifyingly capable young woman who makes quite an admirable living doing the tasks that are apparently quite beyond the average British gentlewoman, like scrubbing sculleries and whatnot. They couldn't get good help in those annoying post-war years when the domestic staff got jobs making real money in the factories and the government imposed income taxes over the objection of the hereditary aristocracy. We all need a Lucy Islesbarrow in our lives. Sadly, most of us must be the Lucy Islesbarrow you'd like to see in the world.
My new narrative non-fiction read for February is Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, which I am very much looking forward to reading - it came highly recommended!
I'm currently listening to 4:50 From Paddington while I make a going away quilt for a friend who is hitting the road to see the U.S. in an R.V. before moving to Arkansas. Her going away party is on 2/17, which means I am hauling ass on it! The theme is "Adventure Quilt," and I hope it turns out as amazing as my vision!
I'm also starting the next Kinsey Millhone, for my read-along with Obsidian Blue, and I have two group reads scheduled - Helen MacInnes and Mary Stewart! February should be a great reading month!
Hey, all! My "Last tags" has reverted to tags I used right after I started using booklikes sometime in November (as best as I can recall). It doesn't "remember" any of my recent tags at all, which makes using tags pretty much impossible.
Is anyone else having this issue, or is it just me?
I will come back to both of these, but I'm not feeling short stories right now, and they are cluttering up my sidebar!
This is the first of a projected ten book epic fantasy series by Sanderson. I'd been holding off on starting it because I wanted him to get a few more books under his belt. He has now released book three, Oathbringer, and my husband finished his massive listen of the entire Wheel of Time series and was looking for a new fantasy listen to keep him occupied while he remodels our master bathroom, closet & bedroom, so I bought the audiobook to go along with the print book and decided to listen along with him while I stitched/quilted.
It did not turn out to be a great listen for me - I find that I struggle with listening to extremely long books, and I often end up switching to the print format because I can move so much more quickly through the story. That's exactly what happened here - I switched out the listen for a reread of Agatha's The ABC Murders, and read this one on my kindle fire.
This is an epic fantasy, with all of the tropes and tells that sort of book requires. There's world-building! There's magic! There's heroes being subjected to terrible things!
I've read a lot of Sanderson - his entire Mistborn series (both his first trilogy and the second series, which has more of an "old west" vibe) and his YA series The Reckoners, starring David Charleston, killer of epics and purveyor of misplaced metaphors. I would note, just as an aside, that The Reckoners is a family favorite - my husband, my 21 year old daughter and my 17 year old son all found it to be great fun. I find his books to be competently written and well-paced. This is also true of The Way of Kings.
He's written an interesting world, with mostly likeable characters. One of his strengths is his ability to build a world without engaging in a lot of info-dumping, which makes jumping into a new series a bracing experience. You just have to take it all in and wait for it to come together.
I did jump into Words of Radiance, which is book 2, which I have also finished. Post to follow.
The Man in the Brown Suit is a very early Christie, published in 1924 on the heels of the second Poirot mystery, Murder on the Links, and right before the first Superintendent Battle mystery, The Secret of Chimneys. In this one, she introduces the enigmatic Colonel Race, who subsequently appears in Cards on the Table, Death on the Nile and Sparkling Cyanide.
This is also the first of her books narrated by one of her charming young women, in this case Anne Beddingfield, impoverished but plucky daughter of a well-known archaeologist. Upon the death of her father, Anne takes her 87 pounds to London, where she is on the search for adventure and darkly attractive, taciturn men to fascinate her.
The Man in the Brown Suit is equal parts romance and mystery, with a side of international criminal intrigue, all taking place under the hot African sky. I get the sense, reading it, that Christie put a lot of herself in Anne Beddingfield, and the incident where Anne goes surfing only strengthens that sense. For those of you who don't know, Agatha was an avid surfer as a young woman, and was the first British woman to surf standing up, which occurred in Capetown, South Africa during the writing of this book.
The plot is profoundly silly and entirely unbelievable. Looking at Christie's bibliography, her first ten books are basically equally split between straight mystery and international espionage:
Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) (mystery)
The Secret Adversary (1922) (international espionage)
Murder on the Links (1923) (mystery)
The Man in the Brown Suit (1924) (international espionage)
The Secret of Chimneys (1925) (international espionage)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) (mystery)
The Big Four (1927) (international espionage)
The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928) (mystery)
The Seven Dials Mystery (1929) (international espionage)
The Murder at the Vicarage (1930) (mystery)
After The Seven Dials Mystery her publishers must have convinced her that she was a much stronger mystery writer than she was a spy novelist, because she largely abandons that form for 22 years, until 1951's They Came To Baghdad.
It is true that Christie's "thrillers" are not as strong as her mysteries. Having said that, with the exception of The Big Four, which I found execrable, and Passenger to Frankfurt, which is likely one of the worst books ever published, I generally enjoy them. They are reliant on coincidence, mostly silly, and have wholly unconvincing villains, but they are fun so long as I refuse to take them seriously.
I am disappointed that with such a worthy start, Colonel Race fizzled as a character, showing up in only three additional books. I would still like to know more about him.