Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good~~

"Something tells me I'm into something good~~
Something good...." 
Herman's Hermits

That something good I'm into would be a book...and here are some that I was glad to dive into~~

The Thin Man by Dashell Hammett. (1934)
I had read this years ago, and thought it would be fun to do for book discussion. We had a great time. Of course, I warned everyone don't try and keep up with the characters and their cocktails. One of the things we talked about was how Hammett put together a great mystery with great characters and snappy banter in just two hundred pages. We also talked about Hammett's writing style, attention to detail, and how he carried his plot compared to some of today's top mystery writers; (no names) and surprisingly, not many compared that well. This book, written in 1934, was a big hit with everyone. If you haven't read this, come on ~~meet Nick and Nora Charles and their little dog Asta....who is spoiled rotten.
**This was the only Thin Man book Hammett wrote, there was never a sequel.

True Grit by Charles Portis (1968)
When I heard that they were remaking this movie, it struck me~~I had not read this book! It was wonderful. Yes yes it's a western, there is blood and gore, but it is also full of humor and friendship. In eighteen seventy -something, fourteen year old Mattie Ross tells us how she sets out after the men who killed her Daddy.
**Loved the movie and this is a terrific book!

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (2010)
I always love to catch up with old friends, and I was delighted to visit with Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro~~even if it may be the last time. Since the last time we hooked up, Kenzie and Gennaro are married with a four year old daughter, but still in the private detective business. We revisit some of the characters from Gone, Baby, Gone...hard to find someone who does the back side of Boston like Lehane.

It's a Book by Lane Smith (2010)
Not a book for young kids~~even though it looks like one. I gave this to several folks for Christmas and they loved it. Whether you are a techie or yearn for the simpler days, this is a great little book.

South of Broad by Pat Conroy (2009)
One of my favorite authors..... Pat Conroy came out with a book after a long absence of fourteen years. He takes us once again to his beloved Charleston and we lose ourselves in his group of characters. We follow them for twenty years, from the 1960's through the beginning of the 1980's. Through the good times, breakdowns~~revisit the racism and the effects on folks who are viewed as a different "class" in society. I love a good book about the South, and I enjoy how Pat Conroy writes. I hope he doesn't wait to long for the next one.

Matterhorn: A Novel of Vietnam by Karl Marlantes (2010)                       
There have been several novels of Vietnam, some of the best, in my opinion, are: Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry; The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam; The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien; We Were Soldiers Once...and Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway; A Bright Shining Lie:John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan....I add Matterhorn to that list. Vietnam was my era, my Dad did two tours there and some of the boys I went to school with are no longer here, so I always feel a connection~~whether that makes sense or not. While some may ask 'What more is there to say about Vietnam?'  this books shows that there will always be more to be said. The reminders of the horrors of war and what it does to people and countries should never be forgotten~~and Marlantes, in his first novel, gives us his first hand account of his experience during his tour there.

Some authors I was very happy to discover, heartily recommend and write a great series:

Lisa Gardener and her Detective D.D. Warren series. Can't believe I had never read her before! I picked up Say Goodbye at a yard sale and was hooked. Creepy, disturbing and  page- turners, while you may sit back and go "huh?" sometimes, Gardener ties up all the loose ends by the end and you end up with a satisfying read                                   

Andrea Camilleri. Meet Inspector Montalbano. He has the good luck to live in Sicily, enjoy good food, have a sense of humor that serves him well while he is investigating murder. He has a style that will make you smile as you read, sorry when you're done and so glad you have another one to pick up. A fun, enjoyable series! 

Donna Leon. Yes, murder abounds, but it takes place in Venice...where we get to tour beautiful Venice and its surroundings while the murder is being solved. How bad that can be? Once again we are treated to a delightful European detective,Commissario Guido Brunetti, who enjoys good food, good music, loves his wife and has a conscience when it comes to what's the right thing to do, and what isn't. Delightful series.

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo (2009)
While Steig Larrson trilogy of books were the big hit this year. I liked Nesbo better. Set in Norway, Detective Harry Hole is relentless and plodding in solving the robbery and murder that occurred in a bank. Complex, multi- layered and several different plots that somehow end up all tied together. By the way, just who is setting Hole up as the prime suspect in some of the goings on? Great series.

Revisiting with a real oldie but goodie~~Ellis Peters and her Brother Cadfiel series. I had forgotten how well written these were and that there's nothing like a visit to good old England in the mid 1100's.
**Reminder to self, read more historical novels this year.

A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield (2009)
I have been wanting to read this and I finally got around to it!
In her debut, Littlefield introduces us to one of the most interesting characters I've come across in awhile. Meet Stella Hardesty; a widow in her fifties, feisty, sassy, hard nosed, tough as nails, full of humor...and can she kick butt! Stella does not stand for cheating husbands, abusive boyfriends or husbands~~which will explain why she is a widow. She will help any woman who is stuck in that situation, or needs help and heaven help who she is after.  I had some laugh out loud fun with this one and am starting on the next.

I was into something good with any and all of these books...

Happy 2011 and Happy Reading!