Teaser Tuesdays: The Secret Place by Tana French

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

It’s astonishing how long it’s taking me to listen to this book, isn’t it?* It’s certainly astonishing to me; and let me say that it’s no fault of The Secret Place itself, which is as wonderful as any of Tana French’s novels. (I’ll wait to rank it til I’ve finished, of course.) I’ve already teased you with it once, but here we are again.

secret

Today I’ll share with you a few lines spoken from Frank Mackey (who we remember from The Likeness and Faithful Place) to Detective Stephen Moran.

“Always fuck with people’s expectations, Sunshine. It’s good for their circulation.”

Good advice from Mackey, I’m sure. Keep that in mind, kids. And stick around: one day I will finish this book and review it for you.


*If you’re curious, my lifestyle is much changed these days, now that I don’t have a day job. I no longer have a lengthy commute during which to listen to audiobooks. I am clearly not spending nearly enough time in the gym or doing housework, either. I’m loving the new life; but it’s skewing me much more towards print and away from the audio. Bear with me.

book beginnings on Friday: The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

diver's clothes

I have you for today a most interesting new novel, which begins thusly:

When you find your seat you glance at the businessman sitting next to you and decide he’s almost handsome. This is the second leg of your trip from Miami to Casablanca, and the distance traveled already has muted the horror of the last two months.

I love that a lot is given away in these lines, and many mysteries are presented and left unsolved as well. Note also the unusual second-person voice: you are the star of this story, m’dear. Stay tuned.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

Teaser Tuesdays: The Savage Professor by Robert Roper

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

savage

On just the opening pages, a characterization of person via his books. How could I pass this one by?

Inside, a scouth of books, as the Scotsman said. Some that had been with him since the beginning, since before he went to St. Paul’s, where he had been a subsidy boy, a scholar on the foundation. Books bought as a lonely Bohemian maths grind at LSE, where had gone instead of Cambridge, for “political” reasons. Plain paperbound books in French, bought at outdoor stands along the Seine, as they ought to have been. A solid selection of the approved high-lit product of the last forty years, books spoken of in the pages of the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, Les Temps Modernes. Mystery novels by the hundreds, by the thousands. Oodles of sci-fi, and pornography, an eclectic sampling, still consulted sometimes in the dead of night, with the left hand. Math texts read for brain tuning. The full epidemiological monty, of course, everything in any way relevant to his own lines of study plus all others, everything ever attempted by his busy generation, in special nine-foot-tall shelves of stained cherrywood.

Outstanding, isn’t it? We’ve only just met this character, and now look at what all we know about him, solely by what he stocks on his bookshelves. A whole personal history. We readers are not new to the concept, of course, but it’s nice to see it written out like this. And this is just the beginning!

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke

“Was it you or Purcel who said most of the world’s ills could be corrected with a three-day open season on people?”

“It was Ernest Hemingway.”

“I’ve got to read more of him.”

pegasusOn a recent vacation, I ran out of reading material (!!) and took the opportunity to visit the local Half Price Books. I was happy to indulge in an old favorite, James Lee Burke, and also to read something I picked out all by myself.

Pegasus Descending is not one of the more recent Dave Robicheaux novels, although it’s not one of the first, either, which surprised me. It reads like quintessential, vintage James Lee Burke, and vintage JLB means excellent JLB: I enjoyed it very much.

To place this one in the series for Burke fans: Robicheaux is married to Molly the former nun in this installment, and working as a detective for the New Iberia (Louisiana) PD, where his boss is the androgynous, likeable Helen Soileau. Clete Purcel comes into play, too, and unsurprisingly falls for a dangerous woman (what else is new). The novel starts with a flashback to Robicheaux’s hard drinking days, when he watched a good friend’s murder and was too drunk to stop it. Flash forward again, and that man’s daughter enters Robicheaux’s jurisdiction and tries to pass marked bills to a casino. He feels obliged to help her if he can, out of respect for his dead friend. At the same time, a young woman shows up dead – by murder? suicide? – to whose family Robicheaux also feels some responsibility. Against the advice of his superiors and wife (again, what else is new), he insists upon pressing the buttons of a few dangerous, powerful, criminal men around town, and the bodies continue to mount.

Burke’s favorite themes are all present: difficulties with alcohol and authority; the sensations of the air off the bayou and the local cooking and culture; the imperfections that lie deep within our psyches; race relations; and the question of pure evil. Also family dynamics and love and battered, bruised redemption. I love this guy.


Rating: 7 three-legged raccoons.

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist by Daniel Taylor

Weighty subjects and introspection never bog down Taylor’s quirky characters as they rush toward a surprising finish.

deconstructionist

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist, by Daniel Taylor, is a slim, funny, thoughtful novel about mental illness, academia, self-knowledge, and philosophy, with a murder mystery thrown in.

Jon Mote, a failed husband and failed graduate student, lives with his sister on a houseboat in St. Paul, Minnesota. When the widow of a murdered professor calls, asking him to look into the death of his former dissertation director, Mote is reluctant—his usual part-time research work involves, for example, the history of popcorn or insurance rates—but he needs the money. Alongside his incessantly sunny but unwell sister, Judy, Mote will have to revisit his own past, as well as that of the highly accomplished Doctor Pratt, who turns out to have a surprising number of enemies. The voices in Mote’s head grow more insistent as the case stresses his fragile grip on reality. Despite her own handicaps, Judy may have to hold things together.

…Click here to read the full review.


This review was published on February 27, 2015 by ForeWord Reviews.

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My rating: 7 zippers.

Teaser Tuesdays: The Secret Place by Tana French

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

secret

I love Tana French. Obviously I was excited about her latest, which I am accessing via audiobook (because I have loved past audio editions of her work, especially The Likeness).

This one is shaping up to be as good as I’d hoped. Check out this passage about teenaged girls meeting at the mall. Probably we can all recognize the angst…

And at least back when they were twelve they just put on their coats and went. This year, everyone gets ready for the Court like they’re getting ready for the Oscars. The Court is where you bring your bewildering new curves and walk and self so people can tell you what they’re worth, and you can’t risk the answer being Nothing zero nothing. You like so totally have to have your hair either straightened to death or else brushed into a careful tangle, and fake tan all over and an inch of foundation on your face and half a pack of smoky eyeshadow around each eye, and supersoft superskinny jeans and Uggs or Converse, because otherwise someone might actually be able to tell you apart from everyone else and obviously that would make you a total loser.

Stay tuned.

Miss Zukas and the Library Murders by Jo Dereske

zukasI caught a few minutes of a radio interview with a local author, but I never caught her name. She apparently writes library-themed mysteries set in a fictional version of my new hometown; I heard one of her titles, and a tiny bit of research later, had the first book in her series from the local library: she is Jo Dereske, and this is Miss Zukas and the Library Murders.

Miss Zukas is an extreme, ridiculous stereotype of a librarian. She favors color-coordinated cardigans and sensible shoes, still wears her hair in the style her mother gifted her on her sixteenth birthday, and keeps her apartment obnoxiously, antiseptically clean. “She blanched at the idea of stray thoughts popping about.” I thought of a librarian girlfriend of mine, who was offended by the opposing, counterculture librarian-stereotype in NOS4A2 (purple hair, funny hats, obscenities and Henry Rollins) – she felt it was too trendy, too over-the-top. Well, I was tickled by the purple-haired librarian, and for a moment thought I was offended by Miss Zukas. But it’s pretty clear that this is meant in good fun, that Dereske is laughing with us, so on we go. (It helped when she ironically quoted Socrates at her boss; I could almost believe that Miss Zukas herself was in on the joke.)

The mystery itself – the “library murders” – qualifies as a cozy; the blood is off-stage. Even the references to sex (Miss Zukas has a friend who might be termed, by our prim heroine, as promiscuous) are oblique. And yes, you guessed it, Miss Zukas is the amateur sleuth who helps save the day. Her girlfriend Ruth, a free-spirited and often drunk artist, makes a fine sidekick; there is even a little romance along the way. I think the least believable element (in a book not trying too hard for realism, I should point out) was the friendship between these two women: it didn’t quite ring true for me that a woman as OCD and repressed as our Miss Zukas could really maintain a relationship with the outrageous Ruth. But so be it.

I was a little doubtful once or twice early on, but quickly found myself involved in and amused by the story as well as silly Miss Zukas. The book itself is a little silly; certainly light-hearted; but in the end, entertaining. I zipped right through it. And you know I don’t usually find much to occupy me in a cozy, but I may just have to go find book two in this series. A diverting, easy-reading cozy mystery set in a totally wonderful little town (of course), starring a surprisingly endearing librarian of the shushing sort.


Rating: 6 cards in the card catalog.
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