I am once again in the position of having many books, partially read, stacked all over the house. However, the great thing about these books is that all of them can be picked up and enjoyed no matter what.
Trouble is My Business by Raymond Chandler
Having suffered through City of Dragons, I realized I'd never really read any of the prototypical genre she was attempting to emulate. My random selections of Raymond Chandler from the library yielded a book of short stories and a novel. Beginning with this book of short stories, I discovered that Chandler is an author I am enjoying. These pithy stories are exactly what you would expect from the creator of Philip Marlowe, except that they show the quintessential hard-boiled detective from a developmental stage through many different stories. The last four stories, so I'm told from the book blurb, have Philip Marlowe in them, though I am not sure how he differs from the 'tecs I've read about thus far (except in name). Great fun.
Nightmare Town by Dashiell Hammett
Yep. I couldn't just try Chandler without also sampling the other great master of hard-boiled mystery fiction, Dashiell Hammett. Again, my random library selections yielded a novel and this short story selection. It also has an interesting overview of Hammett's life in the introduction. These stories contain hard boiled detectives but also, surprisingly, twist ending stories from different points of view as well. Hammett is a more varied writer than Chandler and I am always amused whenever the main detective describes himself as short and stout (which seems to happen frequently). About halfway through and thoroughly enjoying this intro to Hammett.
Assam and Darjeeling by T.M. Camp
If there is any justice in this world, then this book will become a classic. I was enchanted by it when listening to T.M. Camp's audio version on iTunes (want a sample? go listen.)
Taking up the published version (it is on Kindle also but the actual book is high quality ... Tom was very impressed) I was afraid that the story wouldn't hold up to what I remembered. I need not have feared. The printed version is superior, in fact, because the eye can linger over the beautifully written phrases, which add a depth that the ear doesn't convey in quite the same way. I am uncharacteristically reading this slowly for the pure pleasure of it. (Also, I must say that I am reading a copy bearing the author's inscription, though that in no way is influencing my commentary. I have always been a fangirl of this book.)
A masterful and nuanced book, Assam & Darjeeling is the story of a quest straight into legendary, mythological landscape. Two children’s efforts to save their mother serves as a lens through which we see pure love, redemption, and sacrifice. (For my complete review, go to SFFaudio. Highest recommendation.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Rose has been after me to read this for some time. But it took SFFaudio mentioning a read-along of The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester ... then they said it was based on The Count of Monte Cristo and I knew, with a sense of doom, that my time had come.
I am listening to the LibriVox free audio book. I have gotten to about chapter 35 (out of 117 ... oy!) but so far I am enjoying it. Though that villain Villefort! Oh, I want to give him such a slap! And I could have done without that exceedingly long history of the shepherd/bandit, although Dumas certainly threw his heart into the telling of it. Sadly, there is one reader who did quite a few chapters which are agony for me to try to follow as her foreign accent mushes everything together to the point where listening is a chore. So I am alternately listening and filling in by reading, which has been quite a few chapters thus far.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
A lovely surprise given by my friend Meg. Major Pettigrew is living a quiet life in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary when the news that his brother has suddenly died comes and sends him into a (very quiet) tailspin. It sparks a sudden friendship with Mrs. Ali who has also lost her husband. Both are struggling quietly with relatives who selfishly want to force them to behave differently.
I'm only on chapter 4 but am struck with the simultaneous feelings of wanting to gulp it down at once and also savor it slowly. So far it is truly a gem.