Raking Up Some More Fall Reading

I have to laugh when I think that I’d planned to update this blog with each new title to tell you about. I’m just not a bloggy kind of guy, but here goes another catching up from behind list, going back to late September:

“Death Notes” by Ruth Rendell (1981) While I’m a big fan of Lady Ruth, this is one of her muddiest plots, about the mysterious death of a wealthy old musician.

“With God In Russia” by Fr. Walter Cizsek (1964) One of the most powerful testimonies to faith ever written. He went to Russia as a young¬† American mission priest and was held prisoner on and off for 20 years, suffered in every way but never flagged in his devotion to evangelizing. Along the way, this book is also a remarkable portrait of the bureaucratic, sullen horror that was Soviet rule.

“False Scent” by Ngaio Marsh (1959) One of the great grand dames of 20th century mystery writing (Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Rendell). When an aging actress who everyone loved but no one liked turns up (horribly) dead, her perfume is the essential clue.

“Marker” by Robin Cook (2005) If you don’t trust health insurance companies now, you’ll trust them a lot less after this medical thriller about genetic testing.

“Midnight Runner” by Jack Higgins (2002) He never wrote a bad book, and his favorite protagonist (Sean Dillon) is a fascinating kind of anti-James Bond. But his archvillain here, Kate Rashid, seems cartoonish and one-dimensional. Not the best, but always a fun ride and quick read.

“Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell (1877) Required reading for children who love the sweetness of a story narrated by a horse. Rereading it now makes me realize the genius of finding the horse’s “voice”—a style that never deteriorates into the cloying gimmick it might have been.

Hollywood Hills” by Joseph Wambaugh (2010) One of the best writers of police procedurals ever, “Hills” completes his unforgettable trilogy about life, love and crime in the LAPD’s Hollywood Division.

“Lone Star Nation” by H,W. Brands (2004) Read anything Brands writes. Read this if you want to learn of the birth of Texas. Read it if you think you already know the story. You’re guaranteed to learn something new.¬† You couldn’t make up a story like Texas.

“The Fire Engine That Disappeared” by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (1969) Another police procedural, in Sweden, featuring detective Martin Beck and his crew of associates. Every book in the series has a plot that won’t quit, wry dialog and makes you slow down your reading, because you don’t want it to end. When is a housefire not just a housefire? The clue is, well, in the title.

NOTE: All of these except Sewell, Cizsek and Brands are serials. If you read one and like it, consider going back and reading the series in order. As always, I’d love to hear what you think after checking any of these out—or tell me what you’re into!




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