Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Batch of Books

I keep thinking I will get back to writing a daily post here at Belle, Book, and Candle but family deaths, my own emotional and physical health hits, and emergency travels - and okay, some recreational travels as well - have pretty much made that impossible this year. 

But, I have been reading a lot. 

Today, I thought I would write about a batch of books that I have enjoyed recently. 

Yesterday's Spy (1975) by Len Deighton 

I never really understand what is going on in spy novels so I just let myself go along for the ride to foreign locales.  This one had an engaging narrator, locations in the south of France and Switzerland, and well-written characters. This is the only spy adventure of Mr. Deighton's that I have read and I dare say I will be back for more. He also wrote The IPCRESS File and Funeral in Berlin which were made into movies starring the ever-handsome Michael Caine.  

Chasing Cezanne (1997) by Peter Mayle

I am a big fan of Peter Mayle. His capers are filled with intriguing characters, most often living the high life, and exotic locations, most often somewhere in France.  In Chasing Cezanne we meet art forgers, wealthy art collectors, and a home decor magazine editor (who I swear is Vogue's Anna Wintour in disguise). We get to spend a couple of days touring Paris. We spend time relaxing on the the lovely Cote d'Azure. And, as always, with Mr. Mayle, we are treated to scrumptious meals in glamorous restaurants. All the while chasing down a stolen Cezanne. What's not to like about that?

The Axe Factor (2014) by Colin Cotterill
This is the third mystery starring Jimm Juree, a freelance journalist living with her kooky family and helping to manage their rundown seaside resort in southern Thailand. In this fast-paced story, Jimm gets involved with a British mystery writer who may or may not have killed his wife. Romantic interludes aside, Jimm is also investigating the disappearance of the village doctor. All this in the middle of monsoon season. Quite fun. Mr. Cotterill also writes the mysteries featuring Dr. Siri, the aging national coroner of Laos set in the 1970s. 

Vertigo 42 (2014) by Martha Grimes
I have long been a follower of New Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury and now after a four-year hiatus he is back with his friend Lord Ardry/Melrose Plant, the gang at the Jack and Hammer pub, and various dogs, cats, and, of course, murder. If you haven't read any of Ms. Grimes's witty mysteries set in England, you might start now with her first one, The Man With a Load of Mischief, published in 1981. All the titles of her Richard Jury mysteries are taken from the names of British pubs. I don't know if I can wait another four years for the next Jury investigation so I may have to begin rereading her entire series of, now, twenty-three books.


  1. I've heard Martha Grimes' name somewhere else recently, and her books sound like I would really enjoy them -- adding to my list. I'm glad you are feeling your way back to a less stressed place -- what would we do without the comfort of books?

    1. Hi, Vicki. Yes, the comfort of books has gotten me through many a rough patch. I really do like Martha Grimes. Of course, some of the tales are better than others, but I enjoy her characters. Give the first one a try.

      I was out of town this past weekend and discovered as yet another fine used book store - it carried pretty much only paperbacks - but it had many of Grimes's mysteries. Unfortunately, there was not a copy of the first one on the shelf. Darn the luck!

  2. I miss your daily posts, but I understand that how hard it is to keep up, especially when there are family issues. Your weekly posts are great.

    And I have to tell you: Donald Westlake is actually being discussed at a book festival in Iowa City this fall. Someone collected his stories, or wrote a book about him, and now I've finally checked out a couple of his books at the library. I know you will be happy about this.:)

    1. Hi, Kat. Thanks for hanging in there with me. And thanks for the tip on Mr. Westlake. I looked up the book, The Getaway Car, and am thrilled to know about it. It is a collection of his non-fiction - none of which I have ever read. I am very excited!

      I hope you are starting with the Dortmunder books as they are the funniest and my favorites.

      The book festival looks like it would be a great time. Wow! Jane Smiley, Marilynne Robinson, and James Ellroy. Will you get to go?

  3. Have missed your more frequent posting but understand. I keep checking in. Haven't read any of the books you mentioned but they sound like they might be good to add to my list. Have a Peter Mayle book I'm reading at present A Dog's Life which supposedly is his own dog's memoir.

    1. Hi, Joyce. I love Peter Mayle. I haven't read "A Dog's Life" but I am sure it is very funny. His books are such a pleasure to read. What a witty and entertaining companion he is. I have his "A Good Year" on my shelf to read soon. And I know he has a new caper book that came out this year.

      Thanks for sticking around and continuing to check in with me. I always appreciate your comments.