Mark Terry

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reading--The Latest 10

December 28, 2009
In that I've just started Dan Brown's thuddingly long The Lost Symbol and am otherwise reading The Audacity to Win on the Kindle app on my iPhone and I don't think I'll be finishing either in 2009, it looks like I've read 50 books this year, quite down from the last 2 years, although I think my nonfiction magazine writing and general activities level has gone way up. Anyway, here are the last 10 I've read.

  1. Rough Country by John Sandford Another winner about Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers, this time revolving around a business woman who was murdered while at an all-women's resort/retreat. Sandford's best-known series is about Lucas Davenport, but the Virgil Flowers series is very strong and satisfying.
  2. The Tavernier Stones by Stephen Parrish *Ah yes, who is this guy. I read Stephen's first novel in manuscript form and enjoyed it a lot, and look forward to shelling out real money for the real book and reading it in April after it gets published. Queu it up on Amazon so you don't forget, folks. You'll enjoy it. It's a treasure hunt, old maps, good guys, bad guys, weird guys... fun.
  3. The Professional by Robert B. Parker A Spenser novel, about, what, his 50th? Parker's novels have been a bit uneven of late, but I thought this was one fairly consistent and enjoyable. I expect some unevenness over the course of 50 or 60 novels, but some of his more recent novels feel like they were phoned in; this one is pretty good, though.
  4. Diving Into The Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch A sci-fi novel about a woman in the very, very distant future who is half treasure hunter, half archaeologist. Her passion and her job is finding abandoned spaceships and either studying them as an archaeologist/historian, taking tourists on tours, or salvaging them for money. When she discovers an ancient spaceship in a part of space it never should have been able to reach, she forms a team to dive it, but there are secrets and technology on the ship that are better left unexplored. The only thing that bugged me about... okay, 2 things... one was the present tense narrative and the other was the ending, which seemed to skim over the legal ramifications (ie., treason) of what the main character and her team were doing. Otherwise, loved it.
  5. Evidence by Jonathan Kellerman. Another good Alex Delaware novel. He seems to have largely jettisoned the concept of Alex as a child psychologist who gets sucked into police investigations by his expertise and is now an essentially unpaid partner to Milo Sturgis. Aside from that odd disconnect, this is one of the more consistent mystery series out there.
  6. Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story Of A Band Of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode To Victory In Afghanistan by Doug Stanton An enthralling, in-depth look at the Special Forces and CIA ops that were the first group into Afghanistan working with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. If you want to really be concerned about Obama's current surge strategy, read this book to understand what we're up against.
  7. House Rules by Mike Lawson Another good twisty-turny story about the Speaker of the House's troubleshooter, Joe DeMarco. Punchy writing, fantastic plot twists, terrific characterization, and a wonderful main character that defies all the cliches.
  8. U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton I have been, over the years, a huge fan of Sue Grafton's novels. That said, I feel like she peaked with "I" is for Innocent. Although each novel does different things, and I never feel like Grafton phones it in, I think it's possible that either the character has overstayed her welcome or I have. It's possible that, after 20 books, I've just outgrown these types of books. That said, although I felt the book was slow going, I thought the conclusion was very satisfying and I appreciated the new techniques (for her) that Grafton brought to the book.
  9. Storm Front by Jim Butcher Under the urging of my oldest son, I finally read a Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher, the first in the series. I'm sure I'll read more. Harry is a wizard, and not a Harry Potter-like wizard at all. He gets called in by the cops to investigate cases that have an apparent supernatural twist to them--in this case, two people's hearts exploded from the inside out while having sex. They read like PI novels, and Harry is a very appealing character. I was charmed and impressed.
  10. In Search of the Old Ones: Exploring the Anasazi World of The Southwest by David Roberts Continuing my study of the Anasazi (pueblo dwellers) with this fine overview of the Anasazi, that gives a history of Charles Weatherill, who discovered and documented most of the early Anasazi ruins, to Roberts' own explorations, current thinking (or somewhat current, since the book was published in the 90s), controversies, etc. A fine book to read just because it was enjoyable.


Blogger Michele Emrath said...

As always, an interesting list from you. A surprising number of mainstream novels. Thanks for the recommendations.

How do you like your Kindle? I'd be interested in your opinion on my post today.


9:53 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I don't have a Kindle, actually; just the free Kindle app on my iPhone.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I noticed you mentioned that you didn't like the present tense narrative in the sf book. And that's one style I can almost never manage to get into. Generally it just kills a book for me. Makes it feel static. It seems like a disproportionate number of sf stories use that style also, but I haven't sampled that many lately. Of course I enjoyed Alain Robbe-Grillet's novels told in present tense but they're something else again.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

It's a definite pet peeve. Drives me crazy. The one that strikes me most was Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent, which was written like that. Hard to argue with the success, but the question I always, always ask myself (or the author, if only he would have asked my opinion when he/she was writing the damned thing) is: Why?

11:19 AM  
Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

I made a list! My first!

2:02 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

The first of many I hope, Stephen; the first of many.

3:57 PM  

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