The Mysteries and Histories of February Reading

I read so much that I get some funny looks from people, who wonder if I have any life other than the radio show and reading. The answer is no,

Just kidding. But here’s the new way I explain myself: if you “binge watch” a show, you squeeze in viewing-time whenever you get it. Weekends, nights, insomnia, sick days, waiting rooms, etc., etc.  Right? Well, your “binge-watching” is my binge reading. I just work it in wherever, and it adds up. You binge your way, I’ll binge my way!

Here’s my recent log:

“The Late Show” by Michael Connelly (2017) My #1 favorite mystery author is best known for his Bosch series (which you may also have binge watched on Amazon Prime), but he’s kicked off a new serial character, Renee Ballard. A detective who works overnights (hence the title), she’s instantly appealing in this debut novel, and Connelly has done it again. You will love this book.

“The Defector” by Daniel Silva (2009) One of the best espionage writers alive, Silva’s protagonist is Israeli super-sleuth Gabriel Allon. In this installment, a Soviet defector who once saved Allon’s life has gone missing from London. Gabriel knows he owes the man a favor, and is equally sure the official story is bull.

“The Distant Echo” by Val McDermid (2003) She’s the best mystery writer you never heard of, and what is it about the UK that has the market cornered on prolific, proficient crime writers? A haunting cold case from 1978, a local barmaid found dying in the snow, is getting people killed 25 years later.

“Japan’s War” by Edwin Hoyt (1986) He was one of the best Pacific War historians. No matter how much you’ve read about WW2, this is the book that lays out why Japan started its long road of greater Asian conquest, which led to unimaginable glories and, then, unimaginable defeat. For starters, the period 1941-5 was just the final chapter in a long series of wars and strategic moves Japan made for decades before.

“The Body Lovers” by Mickey Spillane (1967) If you’re easily offended or triggered, the Mike Hammer crime novels are not for you. Otherwise, reading Spillane is like enjoying a meatball sub dripping with marinara and melted mozzarella. It’s all good, and in no way good for you.

“Gideon’s Sword” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (2011) Warning: this spy novel about a Chinese technological secret smuggled into the US starts slow. And the series character making his debut here, Gideon Crew, is not too convincing. I was glad I stuck with it, and maybe the series gets better.

“Jesus of Nazareth” by Pope Benedict XVI (2007). Sometimes difficult to read, but incredibly inspiring. A lifetime of study distilled into a few pages, as the Pope (now Pope Emeritus) explains and emphasizes the “person” and “human face” of Jesus. If we can’t see him as a man, the whole notion of “God’s son come to Earth” falls apart, so it’s worth working on it and anything you can get from Benedict’s scholarship will help.

“The Way to Dusty Death” by Alistair MacLean (1973) Most famous for the “Navarone” novels, MacLean was a publishing machine and in all his thrillers, he has a “cliffhanger” thing going on. In this one, it’s not about saving the world, but saving the life and career of the world’s #1 Grand Prix driver. Quick read.

“Rage” by Jonathan Kellerman (2005) His Dr. Alex Delaware, a psychiatrist who consults with the police, teams up with Detective Milo Sturgis, to go behind the headlines of a lurid case where two young boys abducted and killed an even younger girl. The kids were bad, but the adults around them are the real evil here.

“Minimalism” by Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (2016). Sorry, but no. Minimalism is a healthy approach to life. This book is a pamphlet of the trite and the obvious. Keep things simple and skip the book.

More about: