I’m back from a lovely time away from my regular retired life. I feel completely refreshed. I spent time in the wilderness, by the sea, visiting with family members, and time reading. I took along more books than I could possibly read, but what avid reader doesn’t do that? I managed to read five books! Yes, it was a very good vacation.
Unfortunately, there were two books I didn’t like. Let me tell you about them and get then out of the way. The first disliked book may shock you. You know what a big fan of Agatha Christie I am, but Death Comes As the End was very disappointing. I think it was the setting — ancient Egypt. This was a Family Drama worthy of a modern soap opera. The father/leader is very rich and keeps his grown children under his control. He’s been away on business for several months, but when he returns he brings home a beautiful young concubine. She immediately begins to manipulate, behind the scenes, against members of the family. With great drama, she is soon murdered. Gradually, one by one, other family members are murdered.
I love the author’s stories of British murder. The setting is always British even when it is in the Caribbean or on the Orient Express. I like all the British cops and detectives too. I know Poirot is Belgium, but you know what I mean. This Egyptian novel didn’t have the feel of an Agatha Christie novel. The only thing that saved it in my mind was the clever plot. It reminded me of Ms. Christie’s earlier novel And Then There Were None. I believe this is the first Christie novel I can not recommend you read.
My second disappointment was Janet Evanovich’s TopSecret Twenty-One. I’ve been enjoying the Stephanie Plum novels for a long time and then I stopped reading them. The last really great one was Finger Lickin’ Fifteen. [Click the title to read a conversation about the book between my daughter Cerrin and I.] Since that fifteenth book, most of the books were pretty much the same thing over and over again. But then, a bookclub friend said she thought this newest book was back to the good quality of the earlier books. My friend was wrong.
In this twenty-first book in the series we find Stephanie Plum still working as a bounty-hunter with her side-kick Lula. She’s hunting a big-time used car dealer who also earns his money in illegal ways. Along the way there are some homicides so Stephanie mingles with sexy cop Joe Morelli. Security specialist, and equally hot Ranger asks for her help on one of his jobs.
Stephanie is a good character, really. She’s smart, but a little clueless and a bimbo with principles. That worked in the earlier books in the series. Those books were so hilarious that my body would shake with laughter. The main problem with the series is that there are no new, creative plots or new, creative characters. It’s just the same old, same old. No need to bother with this one.
And now I turn to the books that didn’t disappoint me. I’ll share a longer review of each one in the next couple of weeks.
The English Girl by Daniel Silva (Contemporary Mystery)
When a beautiful young British woman vanishes on the island of Corsica, a prime minister’s career is threatened with destruction. Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, is thrust into a game of shadows where nothing is what it seems…and where the only thing more dangerous than his enemies might be the truth.
That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart (Contemporary Romance)
Jamie Valentine is the wildly successful author of self-help books advocating transparency in every relationship. But when her widowed mother passes away unexpectedly, Jamie discovers her own life has been based on a lie. Angry and deeply betrayed, she sets out to find the truth . .
English Creek by Ivan Doig (Western Historical Fiction)
In this prizewinning portrait of a time and place — Montana in the 1930s, Ivan Doig has created one of the most captivating families in American fiction, the McCaskills. The witty and haunting narration, a masterpiece of vernacular in the tradition of Twain, follows the events of the Two Medicine country’s summer: the tide of sheep moving into the high country, the capering Fourth of July rodeo and community dance, and an end-of-August forest fire high in the Rockies that brings the book, as well as the McCaskill family’s struggle within itself, to a stunning climax.
That’s enough for now – more in the weeks to come.