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The Books I Stayed Home With In April

Walgreens Mandatory Face protection sign, April 20,2020/KTSA Photo-Elizabeth Ruiz

Depending on how things are going for you, you may have more, less, or the same amount of time to read these days. For me, it’s probably about the same. And, although I’ve gotten tired of some things (old movies, no haircuts), reading always seems like a welcome escape. Here’s the April log:

“Obsession” by Jonathan Kellerman (2007) His series of Alex Delaware mystery thrillers combine police procedual and psychiatry in a SoCal setting. Always excellent. A young woman is trying to solve the mystery of her dying mom’s bedside confession. Delaware and detective buddy Milo dig up a lot of trouble.

“The Little Drummer Girl” by John LeCarre (1983) The story of an Israeli spymaster chasing a Palestinian terrorist with the bait of an young actress is a timeless spy novel classic.

“Meet Me At The Morgue” by Ross MacDonald (1953) For mystery fans, every MacDonald story is a treat to be savored, and read slowly, if you can. Here, a probation officer works a nailbiter of a kidnapping case.

The Case For Trump” by Victor Davis Hanson (2019) You heard Dr. Hanson on our show frequently. As the title implies, this isn’t a fanbook, but a dispassionate laying out of how Trump won and would merit reelection by those same voters, and maybe more, this year.

“The Dry” by Jane Harper (2016) This book was a gift, and it introduced me to one of the best murder mystery novels I’ve ever read. Do not miss this one.

“Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming (1953) They’ve been making the “007” movies out of Fleming’s stories forever, but it wasn’t until they cast Daniel Craig that the film James Bond resembled the book version. If you saw the 2006 movie, which is excellent, you’ll see and appreciate what they kept and what they changed from the novel. Both are excellent.

“The Somme: The Darkest Hour on The Western Front”  by Peter Hart (2008)It was the biggest, baddest battle of the horrible Great War. Here, you get strategic overview combined with diaries and oral accounts of soldiers from both sides. Take some time with this one. I learned a lot.

“Bad Luck and Trouble” by Lee Child (2007) It starts with a man pitched to his death from a helicopter. Jack Reacher answers a very specific kind of “9-1-1” call that reunites him with former members of his elite team of Army investigators for the page-turning ride Lee Child always takes us on.

“The Second Confession” by Rex Stout (1949) Don’t let the age of the Nero Wolfe detective series throw you. Everything from the genius plotting to the often-funny dialog is worth it.

“Churchill: Walking With Destiny” by Andrew Roberts (2018) A one-thousand page book is necessary for a man who lived 90 years and was a global force for most of them. It’s a great read because Roberts presents all sides, and because Churchill at every age and stage was a fascinating man. When you’re done with the book, he’s not necessarily larger-than-life. But you realize how right-man, right-moment he was, maybe more than anyone of the last 100 years or so.

“The Brass Cupcake” by John MacDonald (1950) You may have noticed I leaned on the ’40s/’50s noir fiction category this month—well, it’s my sweet spot, to be honest. I could read nothing but, if I wasn’t afraid of running out of it. When you read people like John or Ross MacDonald, Rex Stout, Cornell Woolrich, Raymond Chandler, James Cain and the like—you realize how much all the current authors writing this stuff owe them.

“I Know You Know Who I Am” by Peter Kispert (2020) Recommended to me by two friends independent of each other, I had to try out this slim collection of (very) short stories. I can tell you this: you may like Kispert, but he’s not to everyone’s taste. If you write, or like fine character portrayals, he’s really good at it. These young men, struggling with lies they tell themselves and others, just read real and unforgettable.

 


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